Organic Logos Explained

by Daria Love of the Food Issues Committee

Karma members are discerning shoppers.  Seeking quality and integrity in the products they purchase, food labels and logos can provide important information about the packaged product.

In Canada, only those products with 95% or greater organically produced content may be labelled organic or display the organic logo. 

A product can declare the percentage of organic ingredients in the product if they total 70-95% of all the ingredients, but is not allowed to display the organic logo.  Organic ingredients are often starred in the ingredient list and footnoted to be a certified organic.  Amy’s Kitchen Burrito is an example of such a product at Karma.

INGREDIENTS:

organic pinto beans, organic whole wheat and wheat flour, filtered water, organic brown rice, organic tomato purée, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic onions, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses (pasteurized milk, culture, salt, enzymes [without animal enzymes or animal rennet]), organic bell peppers, organic sweet rice flour, sea salt, spices, organic wheat gluten, organic garlic. contains wheat and milk

If the percentage of organic content is less than 70%, the product cannot be called organic or even provide a percentage of organic content on the label, but may star and footnote organic ingredients.  

Sol Cuisine’s Mushroom and Wild Rice Burgers are an example of such a product at Karma.

While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established criteria for labelling products ‘100% Organic’, specifically, that all ingredients must be organic as well as any elements involved in processing the product, Canada does not allow Canadian products to carry 100% Organic labelling.

All products from both the US and Canada with organic labelling or footnoting must also include the name of the company that certified the product or ingredients as organic.

There are a number of third party certification bodies in Ontario, throughout Canada and internationally. The following are some of the logos listed by the Organic Council of Ontario:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provides the names and detailed information on accredited Canadian and international certification companies.  All areas of organic food production including crop and livestock raising, livestock feed, aquaponics and wild crops as well as processed products are covered by these various companies.

The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) is an advocacy and educational organization linking the public, farmers, businesses and government for coordinated policies and interaction that strive for the highest standards for organic products.  With similar organizations in the other provinces, the OCO represents organic interests to the Organic Federation of Canada.

The criteria for organic certification is very similar for all countries internationally, although challenges may exist for some.  A future article will look at international labels and differences in certification.