Natural & Organic Products

How are organic products overseen?

According to the USDA, the National Organic Program regulates all organic crops, livestock and agricultural products certified to USDA organic standards. Organic certification agencies inspect and verify that organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors and traders are complying with USDA organic regulations. USDA conducts audits and ensures the more than 90 organic certification agencies operating around the world are properly certifying organic products. In addition, USDA conducts investigations and enforcement activities to ensure all products labeled as organic meet the USDA organic regulations. To sell, label or represent their products as organic, operations must follow all of the specifications set out by USDA organic regulations.

How do I know if my food is organic?

Look at the label. If you see the USDA organic seal, the product is certified organic and has 95 percent or more organic content. For multi-ingredient products such as bread or soup, if the label claims it is made with specified organic ingredients, you can be confident that those specific ingredients have been certified organic.

What are natural foods?

The term "natural" is not regulated by the USDA except for meat and poultry. As required by the USDA, meat, poultry and egg products labeled as "natural" must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs. Visit USDA's National Organic site for more information.

What are organic foods?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic is a labeling term that indicates the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used. Visit USDA's National Organic site for more information.

Why have natural and organic products been segregated and located together in specially designated sections of the commissary when they aren't the same?

These products have been placed together in sections designated by green shelf blades as a convenience to make it easier for customers to find them. Those who purchase them have strong preferences for them and appreciate their segregation from other products. While there are key distinctions between natural and organic products, customers who buy these products are generally aware of those distinctions and make their purchases according to their preferences.

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