When researching organic food products like baby formula and food, the USDA certification label often adorns many product labels. We know that is means the USDA recognizes that the contents of the package meet their particular standards for being considered organic, but what exactly are those standards?
USDA is the acronym for the United States Department of Agriculture. They are the federal level organization that is in charge of things like food, farming, agriculture, and forestry. Do to its role in all of the areas listed above, one of the main tasks that the general population knows them most for is food safety.
OK, But What is Considered Organic?
According to the USDA, a food is considered to be worthy of their organic certification is if it meet a certain criteria. The rather broad criteria are:
- Follow standard acceptable organic agriculture practices.
- Avoid using most synthetic pesticides.
- Avoid using most synthetic antibiotics.
For the sake of organic foods they go into a little more details. Organic foods should come from organic farms and organic food processing plants. To be recognized as such certain regulations must be followed, such as using sustainable farming methods that support both flora and fauna, not using GMO’s, and keeping organic and non-organic food and food sources separate.
Organic farms and food processors are inspected annually to make sure they are keeping up with their end of the deal once receiving organic certification.
One very tricky bit of information though is that for a multi-ingredient to be considered organic is doesn’t actually have to be 100% adherent to the above, but instead only 95%. That is where things get a little difficult to keep track of.
Giving the USDA the benefit of the doubt, the 5% variance is most likely to allow a little leeway in regards to preservatives. Some foods are still 100% organic and are labeled as so, but if you see the label without the 100% number attached, it’s most likely part for the newer 95% and above standard.
However, single ingredient foods still follow the 100% organic lifestyle rule. That means organic eggs and organic milk comes from animals that have been raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, and that have been fed organics foods themselves. The animals also must have outdoor access, though they do not have to be totally free range raised.
What Does This Mean for Formula?
Organic formula that is certified by the USDA should also adhere to all of the above standards. That is as a mutli-ingredient food, it has to be made from 95% organic food sources. Those sources should avoid using all of the dangerous pesticides and antibiotics in their particular recipes.
There is still that pesky 5% though that can be a major concern, and that’s where the reputation of each individual brand comes in.
Using the USDA organic certification label is a good start in choosing which organic baby formula and baby food is right for your family, but putting in a little more time and effort into researching the actual brand and company behind the brand will ensure you get something that meets your values and expectations.