Understanding USDA Organic Labeling

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  • Understanding USDA organic labeling: According to a new Consumer Reports survey, USDA Organic certification means the following: product label indicating “100% Organic,” means all of its ingredients must be organic, while product label indicating “Certified Organic” or USDA organic label means that only 95 percent of the ingredients must be organic. The remaining 5 percent of the product ingredients must come from an approved list of additives and ingredients, which come recommended from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) since 1990. The approved list includes ingredients such as carrageenan (a thickening agent extracted from seaweed) and xanthum gum (also a thickener). However, while the law prohibits synthetic pesticides and antibiotics to be used in organic foods production, certain substances such as streptomycin and tetracycline (both antibiotics used on apples and pears) received an exemption for up to five years. Recently, the USDA changed the review process and the five-year rule for exemptions to allow the USDA to re-list exemptions even without the recommendation of the NOSB and also not under view or review of the public
  • Eating out doubles the risk of food poisoning: According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, food prepared in restaurants doubles the risk of food-borne diseases compared to food prepared at home. The nonprofit food safety watchdog group analyzed outbreaks of food-borne diseases over a period of ten years and found that 1,610 outbreaks in restaurants sickened more than 28,000 people while there were about 893 outbreaks linked to private homes that caused nearly 13,000 cases of food-borne diseases.
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