What Does the USDA Organic Symbol Mean?

Seeing the USDA organic symbol on food products shows that the food is certified to be at least ninety five percent organically grown. Businesses that claim to produce organic foods must pass strict certification inspections in order to be approved by the USDA. The USDA symbol will also be stamped upon seed packets, foods in restaurants and business’s or farmers crops that claim to grow their food in an organic manner.

USDA-OrganicBecause the requirements are fairly strict on food providers that claim to grow organic products, there is a much better chance that the food does not contain chemicals or pesticides. The requirements to be declared organic vary in each country, but in the United States the symbol represents food or food producing products such as seeds that have passed the standards of production set by the USDA for growing, packaging, processing and storage.

For a business or farmer to be declared an official organic food producer they must adhere to many rules and regulations. One such rule is that they must prove that their product has not been in contact with any type of unnatural chemicals such as pesticides, food additives, radiation or fertilizers that are synthetic. They must also prove that the crops the foods were grown in used only clean water for irrigation purposes.

Another stipulation for being certified USDA organic is that the farm land is free of any run off of sewage or fertilizers from adjoining fields. The usual time frame to be considered clean is at least three years, otherwise the farmer will be unable to receive the approval of the USDA. The grower must also show that he or she has kept the organically grown field a certain distance away from any non-organic crops they may be raising. They must agree to keep detailed records of production and show receipts for any crops they have sold. Growers are also expected to agree to surprise inspections by USDA inspectors. Farmers that claim to raise organic meat animals must also adhere to very strict rules and regulations. One of the rules for meat farmers is to prove that the animals are not being fed a diet that includes any type of steroids, growth hormones or antibiotics.

For restaurants that claim to sell organic foods, the USDA requires that they provide proof that the suppliers they buy ingredients from are also USDA approved and certified. The restaurant itself is also required to be periodically inspected to make sure the food items are being handled in the correct manner and that no chemicals such as cleaning products are kept near the food, the serving areas or the preparation site.

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