GREENFIELD, Mass. (April 29, 2002) –The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) posting today of organic certifying agencies it has accredited to date was lauded by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) as a major step toward full implementation of national organic standards.
“By accrediting a large number of these agencies and posting their names publicly, USDA is bringing consumers one step closer to more consistent labeling of organic products,” according to Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.
Organic production and handling operations must be certified to the national standards by USDA-accredited certifying agents by Oct. 21 in order to label their agricultural products as organic for sale in the United States. Farms and handling operations selling less than $5,000 of organic agricultural products annually will be exempt from certification, but must comply with the national standards before they can label their products as organic, or be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to ensuring that domestically produced organic products have met the standards, USDA will oversee and enforce the entry of only qualified organic food products into the United States, thus providing shoppers with the assurance that all organic food products sold in the United States meet stringent standards. Four certification agencies from outside the United States are among those accredited by USDA.
The new national organic standards will allow four different labeling options based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product.
· 100 percent organic
· Organic (contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients by weight, excluding water and salt)
· Made with organic (contains between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients)
· Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients will list the organic items in the ingredient panel.
To assist consumers, USDA has designed a seal that may be used on products labeled as “100
percent organic” or “Organic.” Use of the seal will be voluntary. The actual percent of organic content may be displayed on all products, regardless of label category. The rule specifies the actual dimensions that are allowed in displaying the content, and the percentage for products with less than 70 organic ingredients can only be displayed in the information panel.
April 29, 2002
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