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What Do Organic Labels Really Mean?

What Do Organic Labels Really Mean

Organic labels can be deceiving. You might come across one that says “100% organic” and another that just says “organic.” And not to stir up a case of consumer mistrust, but some of those products you’re buying might actually contain artificial ingredients. To include the term “organic” on a product label, manufacturers must follow a strict set of guidelines as laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. So how do you know which products are truly organic and which contain artificial ingredients? Here are four claims you might come across.

1. 100% Organic
This claim is as straightforward as it sounds. If a product is labeled 100% organic, it does not contain non-organic ingredients or additives.

2. Organic
If a product is labeled as simply organic it must have a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. Up to 5% can be artificial, like added flavors in food or coloring in cosmetics. Manufacturers do not have free reign over that 5% though: They must adhere to a set list of rules and approved ingredients.

3. Made With Organic Ingredients
These products must have a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. The manufacturer may also choose to label the packaging with a specific percentage, such as “80% organic.” The only restriction for the remaining non-organic ingredients is that they must not be on the USDA’s list of prohibited ingredients. In this case, the use of the USDA Organic Seal is not allowed.

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