With a lot of new research about food products in our supermarkets, there are many people who are choosing to buy organic products for themselves and their families. It wasn’t long before people started to realize how hard it was to decipher what was made or grown organically and what was not. With debates about labels and government regulations, identifying certified organic foods is not always a simple task. Here, we discuss two ways to read the labels on your food for when you’re thinking to yourself, “is this organic?”
These categories are set up by the USDA and all products sold in stores are required to follow them. Not all organic foods need to use the USDA Organic label so it’s important to know other ways to look for organic foods.
USDA Organic sticker may appear on the product (optional). All ingredients in these products are certified organic, including processing aids.
USDA Organic sticker may appear on the product (optional). These products contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
Made with Organic Ingredients
At least 70% of the ingredients are organic. May state specific ingredients which are certified organic (up to 3 categories or ingredients). These products may not use the USDA Organic seal or represent the final product as being organic.
Less than 70% Organic Ingredients
There are some organic ingredients in these products, but they make up less than 70% of total ingredients.
PLU numbers on fresh produce
One way consumers have been checking their food at the grocery store is by reading the PLU # on the label or sticker. The Product Look Up number, or PLU, can give someone reassurance that the apples in the organic bin are actually organic. Sometimes items get misplaced, such as when a customer returns the food to the wrong produce bin or an employee mistakenly set them up in the wrong area. You shouldn’t have to ask “is this organic?” while shopping in the organic section of the supermarket, but just in case, it pays to know what to look for. Before you know it, reading the PLU# will come naturally and easily.
As of today, genetically engineered foods do not require specific labeling, but some produce sources go ahead and mark them as engineered anyways. Know what to look for when checking out the labels of your favorite fruits and vegetables.
1. All PLU codes have at least 4 digits
2. 9 is an additional first digit: this item is certified organic
3. 8 is an additional first digit: this item has been genetically modified
4. First digits other than 8 or 9 or no additional digits: conventional, non-organic product