Important Details about the Different Organic Labels


Health enthusiasts recommend consuming organic products because they contain less harmful chemicals. Plus, they are also better for the environment. However, there are different organic labels that may confuse consumers. Remember, not all products with the word “organic” are 100% organic. As such, you have to check the labels and understand them. So, here are some important details about the different organic labels.

The Meaning of “Organic”

As you know, the United States Department of Agriculture regulates the organic food industry. They ensure that products labeled “organic” have passed various standards and reviews set by the USDA, including the use of pesticides, weed control, and soil quality. Aside from that, organic food farmers are also prohibited from producing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and utilizing synthetic fertilizers.

Keep in mind that all products using the USDA organic seal or “organic” must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. If a product doesn’t have the USDA organic seal, it may contain less than the required amount of organic ingredients.

Three Tiers of Organic Certification

The three tiers of organic certification are one of the most important details about the different labels. After all, it is the labeling system used for organic products. So, the three tiers of organic certification include the following:

  • 100% Organic

The “100% organic” is the strictest category of organic labels. The reason is that a product can display this label or the USDA organic seal if all its ingredients are organic.

An example of this is a granola bar with a “100% organic” seal. This label means that all the ingredients, like nuts and oats, used in the production of this food are individually certified as organic.

  • Organic

The organic label is the most common label used for organic products. This label means the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients (excluding water and salt), while the remaining 5% can be non-organic. Additionally, these products can also include the USDA organic seal.

Keep in mind that the 5% non-organic ingredients of “organic” products must be non-agricultural. Also, the non-organic ingredient must not have an organic counterpart. For instance, a manufacturer can’t use non-organic oats to make a granola bar because it is cheaper. The product must contain organic oats to be considered organic.

  • Made with Organic Ingredients

The “made with organic ingredients” label is the most important label consumers must understand because it is often misinterpreted. Keep in mind that products with this label contain at least 75 to 94.9% organic ingredients. As such, they are not allowed to carry the USDA organic seal. Instead, the product may use phrases like “made with organic almonds.”

Even though the remaining 30% of the ingredients of products under this category can be non-organic, the ingredients should be produced with the methods allowed by the USDA. For instance, the product must not contain GMO ingredients.


Overall, these are some of the important details. As presented, products with organic labels vary, depending on their ingredients. For this reason, always remember that not all products with an “organic” word are 100% organic. Nevertheless, they contain ingredients that have passed USDA’s standards.

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