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New AMS administrator sees organic products first-hand - Organic Trade Association
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New AMS administrator sees organic products first-hand

 

 

News Release       Contact: Holly Givens
For Immediate Release     413-774-7511, Ext. 18

New AMS administrator sees organic products first-hand

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 9, 2006)-The Organic Trade Association (OTA) provided a first-hand look at organic product offerings to Lloyd Day, Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and other USDA officials in a tour yesterday afternoon through the aisles of the Whole Foods Market here on P Street.

 

"This one-on-one tour provided a great opportunity to demonstrate to USDA officials the impact and importance of the National Organic Program (NOP) in a real life setting by showing examples of product labeling and product diversity," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA's executive director. She added,  "It is gratifying that the new AMS Administrator has a keen interest in learning as much as he can about organic farming and organic products. This reflects the impact that organic farming is having on American agriculture."

 

Eager to learn more about the organic sector, Day, who became AMS Administrator in August, said, "As AMS Administrator, it's exciting for me to be involved with the fastest-growing segment of U.S. agriculture.  Organic represents a win-win for agricultural producers and consumers worldwide by providing yet another high quality option to consumers while supporting the American farmer."

 

"We were thrilled to have AMS Administrator Lloyd Day visit our store for a tour and to learn about the current retail environment for organic products. As a certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market is a strong supporter of the National Organic Program, and we are delighted to further the organic cause in any way we can," according to Whole Foods Market-P Street Marketing Specialist Zachary Stein.

In addition to Day, others taking part included Kenneth Clayton (AMS Associate Administrator), Barbara Robinson (Deputy Administrator for AMS' Transportation and Marketing Programs), Mark Bradley (Associate Deputy Administrator for NOP) Demaris Wilson (Assistant Deputy Administrator for AMS' Transportation & Marketing Programs), and several assistants from Day's office. OTA representatives included DiMatteo, Bob Gray (OTA's liaison in Washington), Beth Fraser (OTA's Policy Associate for Advocacy) and Caren Wilcox, who will become OTA's new executive director next month.

 

In the tour, officials were shown examples of a wide array of organic products bearing labeling allowed under national organic standards. These standards, implemented in October 2002, provide consumers with the assurance that all products labeled as organic are governed by consistent standards and are traceable from the farm through the finished product.

 

The different labeling options, based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product, include three distinct categories and a fourth option for products that contain organic ingredients but not at a high enough level to meet one of the three labeling categories:

  • 100 percent organic. Only products that have been exclusively produced using organic methods and contain only organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) are allowed to carry a label declaring "100 percent organic."
  • Organic. This signifies that at least 95 percent of the ingredients (by weight, excluding water and salt) in a processed product have been organically produced. The remaining contents can only be natural or synthetic ingredients not available in an organic form that are recommended by the National Organic Standards Board and allowed on the National List. The product cannot use both organic and non-organic versions of any ingredient that is listed as organic. For instance, if a loaf of bread is made with organic wheat, all of the wheat in the bread must be organic.
  • Made with organic. Products with 70 percent to 95 percent of the ingredients as organic may display "Made with organic [with up to three specific organic ingredients or food groups listed]" on the front panel.

All three categories prohibit the inclusion of any ingredients produced using genetic engineering, irradiation, or sewage sludge.

 

In the fourth option, products with less than 70 organic ingredients can list the organic items only in the ingredient panel. There can be no mention of organic on the main panel.

 

To assist consumers, USDA has designed the "USDA Organic" seal that may be used only on products labeled as "100 percent organic" or "organic." The seal can be used on both food and non-food products that meet the requirements under the standards. Although that use is voluntary, many companies see it as a useful tool for communicating value to consumers.

 

Making the tour possible were staff from Whole Foods Market.

 

Photos of the event are available by going to www.ota.com/USDA_Whole_Foods_Visit.html.

 

The mission of the Organic Trade Association is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. OTA envisions organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment. OTA's more than 1,600 members include farmers, processors, importers, exporters, distributors, retailers, certifiers, and more. For further information, visit OTA's web site at www.ota.com and its consumer web site at www.theorganicreport.org.

 



February 9, 2006

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