Beverage Label Claims & Certifications 101: ORGANIC
Concerns about the impact of chemicals in commercial agriculture practices have long caused anxiety for the consumer. In the 1970’s, consumers began to push for products known to be produced without chemicals, additives, or genetically modified crops. These growing concerns resulted in the creation of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) that passed in 1990. This act authorized the formation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) which establishes organic standards and oversees certifications of organic production to this day.
An organic certification from the USDA indicates that the food product has been produced through approved guidelines set by the NOP. This generally means that the food was grown and manufactured free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents. It also means that the crop is GMO free. The two most recognized claims are “Made with Organic” and the USDA Certified Organic seal, which can be used depending on the composition of your product.
Using “Made with Organic” VS USDA Certified Organic Seal
Organic claims are highly regulated and many of the NOP’s decisions around giving these claims to food and beverage companies are based on the percent organic your product is. Water and salt are not considered ingredients when calculating percent organic, but gases such as nitrogen and CO2 are included. Using both “Made with Organic” or the USDA Certified Organic seal options require your product to be produced in a USDA Certified Organic facility. Below is a broad overview of these two methods for identifying your product as organic to the consumer.
“Made with Organic”
- To use “Made with Organic” on your label, the product must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
- The label may not use the USDA Certified Organic seal. The only organic related labeling allowed for this approach are:
- Listing all organic ingredients as organic in the ingredients statement.
- Using a symbol similar to the USDA Certified Organic seal with the following text inside: “MADE WITH ORGANIC __________” with up to 3 organic ingredients listed. Slight variations are allowed. See example to the right. All fonts and texts within this symbol must the same. This text must also be half the size or smaller of the largest text within that label panel.
- The label must include “Certified Organic By ________” with the certifying agent’s name.
USDA Certified Organic Seal
- If your product is comprised of 95-100% organic ingredient, the USDA Certified Organic symbol can be used along with claims such as “made with organic ingredients.” Slight variations on this wording is allowed.
- If your product is comprised of 100% organic ingredient, the USDA symbol can be used and you can claim “100% Organic” on your label including slight variations. In addition, the term “organic” can be used within reason on other aspects of the label.
This information is only a brief overview of organic claims and certification. It is recommended that you speak with an expert to ensure your product and label is compliant.
For more information check out: https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended to convey general information regarding beverage regulations and compliance. It does not constitute legal advice. This is for informational purposes only, and we strongly encourage you to seek independent legal counsel for advice on specific legal issues.