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Requirements for USDA Certified Organic Foods

Sept. 1, 2017

As awareness of potentially harmful ingredients in foods rises, the demand for organic products grows. Companies that are able to market organic foods stand to gain significant profit, however, there are a number of regulations that govern USDA organic labeling. Certain requirements must be met in order to claim that your product is indeed organic. This is also true to put a USDA Organic label on your product. Here's what you should know.

Does Your Product Need to Be Certified Organic?

If you sell a food product with organic ingredients, you may wonder if your product needs to be certified. In most cases, yes. If your product is not certified, you cannot make any claim that it is organic on the principal display panel. You also cannot use the label of USDA Organic. The only thing you can do to inform consumers that your product contains organic ingredients is to identify which ingredients are organic on the information panel. You may also claim a percent value in relation to how much organic material is used.

Requirements for USDA Organic Labeling

In order to use the USDA Organic label, your food product must meet the following three main requirements:

The product must include only allowed materials and none of the materials that are prohibited for use by the USDA in organic foods.

The product must be grown, manufactured, or produced without any of the methods that are excluded by the USDA for organic products. This includes, but is not limited to the use of sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, or genetically modified or engineered materials.
The production of the food and the final product must be overseen by an agent authorized to approve and certify organic foods by the USDA National Organic Program. The agent must follow all USDA Organic regulations.

How to Ensure USDA Organic Compliance

The above is just a small sampling of requirements that products must meet in order to be considered USDA Organic. Although it is possible to manufacture organic products without certification, doing so makes it difficult to inform consumers that your product is organic. This could lead to decreased sales. If you manufacture an organic food, it's typically in your best interest to have it certified.

Get help navigating complex USDA regulations for food manufacturing and sales by contacting an experienced attorney. can assist you. Call today for a consultation to discuss your food labeling needs.