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Organic Consumers Association

USDA Clips Wings of Misleading Organic Marketers

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's All About Organic page and our Safeguard Organic Standards page.

CORNUCOPIA, WIS: The USDA, today, announced to industry stakeholders that it would rein-in misleading language on organic packaging that all too often has been suspected of confusing consumers.

Specifically, the agency addressed companies marketing food products that have the word "organic" or "organics" in their brand-name.

"Unless a food product is certified organic it cannot display, overtly, the word 'organic' on the front panel of the product," said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog.

Some companies, such as Newman's Own Organics, have been selling products that do not qualify for the use of the word organic on the front panel and are getting away with misleading messaging to consumers because they have used the word organic in their trade name.

In 2010 Cornucopia filed a formal legal complaint against Newman's for selling such products as ginger cookies, using a lesser labeling category regulated by the USDA: Made with Organic Ingredients. The USDA dismissed this complaint without explanation.

At that time staff from Cornucopia also briefed USDA Deputy Administrator, Miles McEvoy, who heads the National Organic Program (NOP) on the organization's concerns, in this matter, and also briefed members of the National Organic Standards Board.   


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