Monday, April 7, 2008

Wise Word: Food Labeling

Many of the food products are labeled as organic, vegan, natural, etc., but what do they really mean; is there a certification of their claim? As I said in a previous post, most of the time many of these labels, not only that are confusing the customer but they are the product of marketing without adding real value to the product. I made a list with labels I have been found on food products and described them in the table bellow.

Label

Where?

What it means?

Is it verified?

Is it meaningful?

Certified Organic

Meat, fruits, vegetables, grains, diary.

Free of pesticides and fertilizers, and all antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge. Organic animals must eat 100% organic feed and must have access to the outdoors.

Yes, it is regulated by USDA.

Yes. 95% of the ingredients must be organically grown and the remaining 5% must come from non-organic ingredients that have been approved on the National List. These products display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier’s logo.

100% Organic

Meat, fruits, vegetables, grains, diary.

All ingredients are 100% free of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge.

Yes, it is regulated by USDA.

Yes. 100% of the ingredients must be organically grown. These products display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier’s logo.

Made with Organic Ingredients

Meat, fruits, vegetables, grains, diary.

Contains at least 70% organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the back of the package and again, the remaining 30% of the non-organic ingredients must approved on the National List.

Yes, it is regulated by USDA.

Yes.

Certified Vegan

Snacks, candies, condiments, frozen food, soups, soy products, cookies, cakes, nuts, grains, veggie burger, beverages.

Contain no animal ingredients or by-products, use no animal ingredients or by-products in the manufacturing process, and not tested on animals by any company or independent contractor.

Yes, the Vegan Awareness Foundation.

Yes. These products should have the logo of the Vegan Awareness Foundation.

Fair Trade Certified

Chocolate bars, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, sugar, rice, cocoa powder, tea, coffee

Ensure that farmers in developing nations receive a fair price for their product; have direct trade relations with buyers and access to credit; and encourage sustainable farming methods, without the use of a dozen of the most harmful pesticides, and forced child labor. The buyer must also be willing to pay up to 60% of the purchase in advance for some products, including coffee, tea and cocoa.

Yes, TransFair USA (the only certifier of Fair Trade goods in the U.S.), a member of Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).

Yes.

Fresh Poultry

Chicken.

Any raw poultry product should not be cooled below 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yes, it is regulated by USDA.

Somewhat. It is not clear for how long the product can be stored in the freezer.

100% Vegan

Bread, candy, cereals, baby food, soups, condiments, processed food, snacks, beverages.

Does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

No.

No.

100% Vegetarian Ingredients

Processed food, condiments.

Avoids animal products for food.

No.

No.

Antibiotic Free

Meat (lamb, beef, chicken, pork) and diary products (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream).

No antibiotics were used in the production of a food product.

No.

No. The USDA has banned the use of the term "antibiotic free" but allowed the use the claims "no antibiotics administered" or "raised without antibiotics."

Hormone free

Meat (lamb, beef, chicken, pork) and diary products (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream).

No hormones were used in the production of a food product.

No.

No. The USDA has banned the use of the term "hormone free". The USDA has banned the use of hormones on pork and poultry.

Natural and All Natural

Meat (poultry, beef, chicken, pork), cookies, candies, diary products (cheese, cream), processed food, frozen food, beverages, snacks.

No standard definition; the only exception is applied to meat and poultry products - defined by USDA as “not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients”

No.

Somewhat. It is not regulated therefore, is up to the manufacturer.

Free Range

Eggs, chicken and other meat labels as free-range

Suggests that an animal has spent a good part of its life outdoors.

No.

No. The time spent outdoor is not regulated. It can be as less as 5 minutes regardless the animals went outside or not.

Cage Free

Eggs, chicken.

Suggest a high quality of life for hens

No.

No.

  • Always look for the certification of the claimed label. If there is no certification associated with the label there is no assurance that the product is actually what is claiming to be.
  • For products having a label that is not regulated, look for ingredients. It is possible to find ingredients that are contradicting the claim (e.g., for 100% Vegan)

1 comment:

Sara said...

Thank you for a tremendously clear and helpful guide! :)