Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Pesticide sprays & Chemicals Are Permitted Through The Usda In Organic Produce

The National Organic Program oversees the regulation of organic products and the certification guidelines for operations that process organic foods. Organic foods carry a range of labels, the "USDA Organic" seal, "100 percent organic," "organic," and "made with organic ingredients." Certain pesticides and non-organic ingredients are allowed in the cultivation and processing of organic foods.

Organic Food Regulation

The Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) requires organic farms or processing facilities that gross over $5,000 yearly to undergo certification. Under OFPA, all operations claiming to offer organic products must follow the same production standards regardless of size, yearly profit margins, or certification status. USDA organic labeled foods must contain 70 percent organic ingredients; they also must not be irradiated or genetically modified. The National Organic Program monitors organic food producers for compliance with OFPA standards.

Organic Labeling

Organic food labels may read "100 percent organic," "organic," or "made with organic ingredients." If labeled "100 percent organic," the product contains only organically produced ingredients. The "organic" label signifies a product with 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Any item containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients should be labeled as "made with organic ingredients." The "100 percent organic" and "organic" requirements exclude water and salt content.


Certifying agents receive accreditation from the USDA. Their accreditation permits them to verify that the production practices of operations using the "100 percent organic," "organic," and "made with organic materials" labels meet national standards. Any organic producer with a yearly profit of $5,000 or greater must be certified. Smaller operations are not required to be certified, but they must follow the same national standards. A site inspection is performed by a certifying agent prior to certification and annually thereafter.

Organic Food Production

The National Organic Program provides lists of permissible inert ingredients and pesticides which may be used in the processing and manufacture of foods bearing the "organic" label. The 16-page document, "National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances" lists the evaluation criteria as well as the natural and synthetic substances which may or may not be used in the production of organic crops and livestock.

Pesticides, the Food Quality Act and Organic Foods

A follow-up document, "Reassessed Inert Ingredients," provides a list which modifies the "National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances" using more recent findings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the list meets the safety standards of the Food Quality Protection Act. Naturally occurring pesticides such as sulfur, nicotine or copper as well as other substances approved by the USDA, natural and synthetic, may be used to control pests. Visit the National Organic Program website to view the lists.

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