Organic food standards

Organic food standards are the criteria that certify a food as organic. Organic certification is given to producers of organic food as well as to its suppliers or providers (such as retailers and restaurants). Several countries have specified their own organic food standards in the form of production standards for the growing, processing, packaging, transport, and handling of organic foods.

Organic Food Standards: definition of organic foods

With growing awareness of the many hazards of intensive, non-organic farming, most countries have adopted a set of organic food production standards. These standards define organic food as any product whose growth, production, handling, or processing

  • Complies with environmental health standards
  • Complies with animal welfare standards
  • Is free of fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemical agents
  • Is not exposed to radiation
  • Is composed (at least 95%) of wholly organic ingredients
  • Is not genetically modified

Organic food standards generally stipulate the following criteria:

  • No synthetic chemical intervention, preservatives, or additives, and not genetically modified
  • Farmland that has been free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for a specified number of years
  • Documented audit trail for production and sale
  • Periodic inspections of the farming site
    • Organic food standards worldwide

      United States: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined a set of national standards, whereby all food labeled “organic” (whether grown in the US or imported) must meet USDA production and handling standards.

      Canada: The National Organic Standards describe the principles and management standards required of organic production systems in Canada, and list the permitted substances to be used in organic production. Use of the Biologique Canada Organic designation and logo is permitted only on those food products certified as meeting the National Organic Standards

      European Union: The EU authenticates organic food with the EU organic logo, which guarantees that the organic food product meets the common EU organic food standards and that at least 95% of the product ingredients have been organically produced, packaged, and handled.

      Australia: The organic food industry in Australia has to comply with the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce (the Standard). The Standard is governed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), and stipulates minimum requirements for organic production, processing, labeling, and transportation.

      Japan: The production and processing of organic products for the Japanese market is regulated by the Japanese Agriculture Standard (JAS). The certified products are identified with the official JAS organic seal of the Japanese government. All plant products labeled “organic” for sale in Japan must carry the JAS seal and be certified according to the JAS standard.

      India: The Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) governs the Indian National Standards for Organic Production (NSOP), as well as the India Organic logo.

      China: The China Green Food Development Center (“green food” is organic produce) awards two Standards: A and AA. The A standard only prohibits the use of certain synthetic agricultural chemicals, while the AA Standard is more rigorous.

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