Can I Call My Food Organic?

Consumers are demanding organic food, free of pesticides and other toxic ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates that labeling on food and requires that products have the appropriate information to protect consumers. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the government entity that determines if a product can have an organic label. The organic label is a high standard to meet. Learn whether or not you will be able to legally place the organic stamp on your product.

Organic Products

The USDA has very strict standards regarding the production and labeling of organic products. In order for a product to carry the organic label, it must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The product must be made without any method that is excluded by the USDA under organic standards such as sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, or genetic engineering.

  • The product must have been produced without disallowed substances listed in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

  • The product must be under the oversight of a USDA National Organic Program certified agent.

Can You Use the Organic Label Without Being Certified?

The short answer is probably not. If you make a product and want to make the claim that it is organic, your product needs to be certified. If you are not certified, you may not make any type of organic claim, use the USDA official organic seal on either the principal display panel or anywhere on the product. You are allowed to identify the certified organic ingredients on the information panel as well as the percentage of organic ingredients.

One exemption is if you are a small business, or small farmer, that sells $5,000 or less in a product. In these cases, you are allowed to state that your products are organic without the certification process.

“Made With Organic Ingredients”

Many products contain more than one ingredient, some of which may be organic. An agricultural product made with organic ingredients must meet certain standards in order to use the “made with organic ingredients” label.

  • 70% or more of the product must be made with certified organic ingredients.

  • The remaining 30% or less must be produced without excluded methods listed above.

  • Non-agricultural products must be allowed on the National List.

  • A product label must clearly state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

  • The product may state on the package that it is “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).”

  • The product must not include USDA organic seal anywhere.

  • The product must not represent that the finished product is organic.

Contact a California Food Law Attorney

If you are in the food industry, you may wonder if you can identify your product, food item, or menu item as officially organic. To ensure compliance with the FDA and USDA visit with an experienced California food law attorney.

At De Cárdenas Law Group, we make it our mission to help you with your business. Give us the opportunity to show you how we can help you stay compliant with our legal services. You can schedule a meeting with our legal team in San Francisco or South Pasadena by calling (626) 577-6800.

#organicfood #foodbusiness

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The De Cardenas Law Group is an advisory group that works with family and privately owned businesses in the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods space.  

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