With more and more produce and products bearing health-wise labels such as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’, here’s a bit of a primer on what the labels really mean.
Organic produce is grown and processed without the use of genetic engineering, synthetic or artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth regulators, antibiotics, preservatives, dyes, additives, chemical coating or irradiation. Organic livestock are raised under minimal stress, without overcrowding, hormones, growth enhancers or antibiotics.
In Canada, there are a number of certifying bodies. Organic foodstuffs along with livestock feed are inter-provincially regulated under the Canadian Organic Regulation and must meet all requirements as set out in the Canadian Organic Standard. For more information on organic certification standards in Canada, visit the government of Canada website. As for the term “natural”, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency restricts the use of “natural” to foods that have not been significantly altered by processing. Foods or ingredients of foods submitted to processes that have significantly altered their original physical, chemical or biological state should not be described as “natural”. This includes such changes as the removal of caffeine.
In the U.S., certified organic food products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are produced under a strict set of guidelines. However, the agency defines the term “natural” only for meat and poultry. In the rest of the food industry, the meaning is largely up to the producer. For more information on organic certification standards, visit the USDA website.
These ‘certified organic’ logos provide assurance to consumers that the food products bearing this logo are truly organic.