The following requirements are needed to be met in order to qualify for USDA organic certification.
Organic Labeling and Marketing Information
The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and the National Organic Program (NOP) assure consumers that the organic agricultural
products they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to consistent national organic standards. The labeling requirements
of the NOP apply to raw, fresh products and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients.
Agricultural products that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be produced and processed in accordance with the NOP standards. Except for operations whose gross income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less, farm and processing operations that grow and process organic agricultural products must be certified by USDA-accredited certifying agents.
Labeling requirements are based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product.
Agricultural products labeled “100 percent organic” and “organic” Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids. Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.
Products meeting the requirements for “100 percent organic” and “organic” may display these terms and the percentage of organic content on their principal display panel.
The USDA seal and the seal or mark of involved certifying agents may appear on product packages and in advertisements.
Agricultural products labeled “100 percent organic” and “organic” cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.
Processed products labeled “made with organic ingredients” Processed products that contain at least 70 percent
organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either “soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots,” or “soup made with organic vegetables.”
Processed products labeled “made with organic ingredients” cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. The percentage of organic content and the certifying agent seal or mark may be used on the principal display panel.
However, the USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package. Processed products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients These products cannot use the term organic anywhere on the principal display panel. However, they may identify the specific ingredients that are organically produced on the ingredients statement on the information panel.
Other labeling provisions
Any product labeled as organic must identify each organically produced ingredient in the ingredient statement on the information panel. The name of the certifying agent of the final product must be displayed on the information panel. The address of the certifying agent of the final product may be displayed on the information panel.
There are no restrictions on use of other truthful labeling claims such as “no drugs or growth hormones used,” “free range,” or “sustainably harvested.”
Penalties for misuse of labels
A civil penalty of up to $11,000 can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program’s regulations.