Whether it’s from concern for the environment, their health, or both, shoppers are choosing organic foods and foods made without using genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The upsurge in popularity of these two categories has helped organic foods become one of the quickest-growing sectors of food production in the United States. For anyone who has an interest in what goes into the food they eat, walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store today reveals a rising number of options.
Not only do foods carry the familiar nutritional facts labels mandated by the FDA, but they also bear the symbols of organizations that certify organic food products as well as non-GMO food products. Even if these foods are distinctively labeled, there still may be some misconception about what those labels mean. Some people may be trying to eat an organic or all-natural diet, while others may be concerned only about supporting companies that don’t use GMOs. This, along with the fact that there is some overlap between organic and non-GMO foods, can lead to misunderstanding.
Although there is some harmony between the two groups, organic and non-GMO labels have specific meanings. For example, foods with the USDA Organic label have been made without the use of GMOs, as well as other standards certifying that the food has been produced with at least 95% organic ingredients. Foods labeled as Non-GMO, however, only need to meet the criteria of containing less than 1% of GMO content. Foods certified as Non-GMO, for example, may have been exposed to chemical pesticides or fertilizers, animals may have been exposed to antibiotics or hormones, and livestock may not have been raised on 100% organic feed.
Overall, all USDA Organic certified foods are non-GMO, but not all Non-GMO certified foods are organic.
Making sense of the differences between USDA Organic certification and Non-GMO certification is very significant to anyone who pays close attention to what he or she is putting in the grocery cart. The accompanying infographic from PacMoore helps to classify these types of certification, and could come in handy next time you’re in the grocery store.
By Chris Bekermeier
Chris Bekermeier is the VP of Marketing at PacMoore, a food contract manufacturer that offers food processing and packaging services. Chris received his B.S. in business management from Eastern Illinois University and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
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