Organic, All Natural, and GMO-Free Label Guide

When heading down the supermarket aisles you may see several products claiming to be all natural, organic, GMO-Free, or labeled with a USDA organic green or black stamp. This can be confusing as a consumer and you just want to make sure your food purchases are pure and free of any harmful pesticides and GE ingredients. I have made a guide below to help sort out all of the labeling so you can make healthy food choices for your family.

100% Organic
If a product is labeled as 100% Organic you can be absolutely certain all ingredients are certified organic and it will include the USDA organic seal and/or 100% organic product claim. Furthermore, the 100% organic ingredients will be labeled as such (i.e.: 100% Organic Orange Juice)

Organic
For a product to be labeled organic it must have at least 95% organic ingredients. It will include the USDA organic seal and organic ingredients will be identified as such (i.e. organic apple).

“Made With” Organic
If a product states it is “made with organic” ingredients, 70% of the product must be certified organic ingredients. These products cannot have the USDA organic seal, represent finished products as organic, or make broad statements like “made with organic ingredients”. Instead up to 3 of the organic ingredients must be clearly identified as such.
 
USDA Organic Labels 

No differences exist between the green/brown or black/white USDA organic label. They both represent either 95-100% organic ingredients as stated above.

Natural
Foods labeled as natural are not regulated or defined clearly by the FDA. A product labeled as natural must only be free of artificial flavors, synthetic substances and/or added color. So a product with this label could still have very unnatural GE ingredients lurking in it.

Non-GMO Project Verified Seal
The Non-GMO project is currently the only independent verification in North America for GMO free products. The seal indicates that all at-risk ingredients have been thoroughly tested and are in align with an action threshold of 0.9%. After testing each product, rigorous traceability and segregation practices are followed to ensure ingredient integrity up to the finished product. For low-risk ingredients, reviews of ingredient specification sheets are conducted to determine any absence of GMO risk. Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Karina! For the longest time I was confused by the green and black USDA organic stamps and had heard several explanations why they were different colors- and then it turns out there is no difference, it’s just what the company prefers on their packaging. Anyways, glad you found it helpful :)

  2. Nicole Gwaltney says

    I have two questions.

    I have leaky gut syndrome and have been told GMOs are a huge contributing factor to this. So which label is more important for me to avoid GMOs: Certified GMO-free or Certified Organic?

    Also, a friend told me the black Organic label means that things are grown and sustained under organic conditions but that the seed or plant itself doesn’t have to start as organic. Is this true?

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