Here’s everything you need to know about how to include organic claims on your nutrition labels
Organic food is all the rage today, and more and more independent food makers are focusing on making their products organic to stand out from the crowd.
And with good reason.
Organic foods usually contain less overly processed ingredients than many chemically enhanced processed foods made in a laboratory and not in a kitchen or grown from the ground.
Did you know that organic foods only make up about 5.7% of U.S. food sales? With new emerging markets and new audiences there might be some more opportunities to offer your customers an organic option.
People Are Wanting Non-GMO Foods More
Over the years people have gravitated towards non-GMO foods which do not contain any (genetically modified organisms) and are now checking the labels of the food they buy to determine if the food is organic, or non GMO etc. As people are now looking at labels more to see if a food product is organic, this is an excellent opportunity for you to include all your nutritional information right next to it.
If you are making healthy, organic food and non-GMO foods, you need to get it out to a market that is desperate for it. The best way to start on that journey is to have the proper nutrition food labels on your packaging.
This blog will cover everything you want to know about labeling your food as organic, including label regulations, what constitutes a USDA organic food label, and what to do once your food has been certified organic.
What Are GMO and Non-GMO foods?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant, animal, organism, or microorganism whose makeup has been altered in a laboratory. This process creates abnormal combinations of plants, animals, and bacteria that do not occur naturally.
Non-GMO foods are simply foods, plants, and organisms that have not been genetically modified.
Many food products that we eat today are genetically modified, such as corn, soy, potato, and animal products. While the number of GMO products continues to grow, the makers of non-GMO foods and organic products are trying to offer healthier alternatives.
Who Regulates a Non-GMO or Organic Label?
Surprisingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate non-GMO or organic labels.
An independent governing body oversees what food qualifies as a non-GMO label and an organic label. The National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal agency responsible for governing organically produced crops and livestock. The NOP is a program that operates under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and enforces its regulations.
The NOP develops all the rules and regulations for the production, handling, enforcement, and labeling of all organic products. Essentially, these two organizations regulate the use of the term “organic” on an organic label.
The laws enforced by the USDA regarding what is on an organic label differ from the food laws enforced by the FDA. However, if you are producing and packaging non-GMO foods with an organic label, you must comply with both USDA NOP regulations and FDA food safety and nutrition labeling rules.
What Foods Need an Organic Label?
If you are an organic food producer, you may know the many regulations for organic label compliance. For more information on organic label regulations, check out the USDA website.
Here is a brief roundup of regulations regarding having an organic label on your food product:
- Organic products must use agricultural practices that use resource cycling, promote ecological balance, minimize the use of synthetic materials, conserve biodiversity, and maintain and improve the soil quality.
- Products must be overseen by a qualified USDA NOP professional certifying agent.
- Products must follow all USDA organic regulations.
- Products must be produced without the use of prohibited methods and materials such as ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, or genetic engineering.
- Your organic products must be produced using only allowed substances.
Can You Put an Organic Label On Your Food Product If It’s Not Certified?
If you are going to develop an organic food product, you will want to get it certified so you can showcase the organic label. People will be more likely to buy your product if it has the official USDA organic label.
If your food product is organic but not certified, you cannot have an organic label on your food product stating that it is organic. You cannot claim to be organic anywhere on the principal label or use the USDA organic seal on your nutrition label.
However, you can list any certified organic ingredients on your nutrition label. You can also include the percentage of organic ingredients used in your food product. Nutrition label-creation software is beneficial for quickly and efficiently creating nutrition labels that prominently showcase the content of your food.
What Do the Rules Regarding an Organic Label Cover?
The USDA has specific guidelines for what needs to be displayed on an organic label.
These regulations cover what is on the front label and the nutrition label. Here’s exactly what those labels are:
- Principle Display Panel (PDP): The package portion that a customer will most likely see when purchasing the food product.
- Informational Panel (IP): This includes the ingredients statement and other product information. The ingredients statement should list the ingredients in your product from highest to lowest percentage of the final product.
For the complete organic label requirements, check this page out from the USDA.
What Do You Do Once Your Food Products Are Certified Organic?
While there is only one way to get a certified USDA organic label on your food product (get it certified by the USDA NOP), there are a few options for your nutrition label after it has been approved.
Most people want to know if they are buying a certified organic food product. Marketing is one more reason to get your food product organic certified. The best way for people to know it’s certified organic is to have an organic label and all the organic ingredients listed on your nutrition label.
Nutritional label software that can help calculate your nutrition percentages and display what is needed on your nutrition labels to comply with nutrition regulations which can greatly help streamline the processes for your business.
The non-GMO and organic foods market has been growing steadily over the years and shows no signs of slowing down. If you can display a non-GMO label or a certified organic label on your food product, it will go a long way to bringing in more customers who are looking for a healthy alternative to the GMO foods that are prevalent in today’s society.