We all try to make wise choices and buy healthy food for our family, but sometimes the amount of labels, symbols, and ingredients can be overwhelming. Is it REALLY organic or is it just saying that it is? These are real questions. So to help you pick out food that is truly good for you and your family, I have picked out 6 common food labels and explain what they mean.
**Click on the title of each label and it will take you to a picture of what that label looks like. I do not want to get in trouble with copyright laws!
This is one of the most recognizable food labels. To have this particular logo on their food, farmers, ranchers and food processors must go through a process of becoming “certified organic” and must adhere to the standards put together by the United States Department of Agriculture. Some of these standards include preserving natural resources, only using approved materials, supporting animal health, providing outdoor range for animals, an annual inspection, and not using GMO’s. To find out more about what it takes to become “certified organic” check out these links.
National Organic Program
Non GMO Project Verified
Food with the Non-GMO Project label has been “produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance”. The people behind this label believe that consumers should be easily able to find food that is Non-GMO. As with the USDA Organic label, foods labeled Non-GMO Verified must go through a verification process and must be tested for genetically modified ingredients. They require ongoing testing for high risk ingredients (commercially grown products in GMO form) and a separate test for low-risk ingredients. The Non-GMO project has a threashold of 0.9% (European standard that anything containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled). If you want to read more about GMO’s or how foods get Non-GMO verified, check out the links below.
The Non-GMO Project Verified Seal
What is GMO?
Non-GMO Project Standard (37 page pdf)
Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified means that the products with this logo come from farmers (most often far from where they sell their products) who are justly compensated. The “middle man”, that often receives most of the profit, is non-existent and the farmers directly sell their products to the stores. This certification is also part of a program that helps teach farmers in developing countries how to sustain their business and help their community. The most common fair trade products are coffee, tea chocolate, sugar and herbs/spices.
What is Fair Trade?
Video: Every Purchase Matters
Certified Gluten-Free is an independent food label from the Gluten Intolerance Group. To have this label food must go through an in-dept process and contain less than 10ppm (parts per million) of gluten. They also require ongoing testing on finished products, raw materials and equipment and at minimum, an annual inspection.
Standards of Gluten Free Certified
Food and products with the certified vegan label do not contain any animal products, by-products have not been tested on animals. This includes meat, fish, fowl, silks or insect dyes, eggs, milk, or honey. The users of this label must go through a verification process that proves none of these animal products or by-products were used in the making or in the final product. Not all certified vegan products are organic and there are certified organic products that share machinery with non-vegan. These products must have a proper washing process that maintains the integrity of the vegan products. This logo is administered by the Vegan Awareness Foundation.
Although there is more than one kosher label, this label is the most common used for labeling kosher products. This label comes from the Orthodox Union. Kosher foods are foods that are acceptable (definition of kosher) as described in the Jewish law and Jewish traditions. In this law there is mention of foods that are unacceptable to eat, (certain fowl and fish, insects, or reptiles to name a few) Meats that are considered acceptable, or kosher, to eat must be slaughtered in a particular way. There is a certification process that must happen. Kosher foods that fit this criteria and are supervised to assure it stays kosher, are labeled with this kosher sign.
What is Kosher?
It is always good to be a smart shopper, to know what the labels mean, read the ingredients and know what exactly you are putting into your body and your family’s body. If a food says that it is organic or gluten free, but does not have a corresponding label, it is often self-proclaimed and is not being verified by an outside organization that they are truly organic or gluten free. I hope this short list has helped you make healthier and wiser food choices for your family!
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