Certified Food Labels Explained

Understanding the Most Common Certified Food Labels & How to Qualify for Them


With strict standards regulating the information found on product packages today, it is no surprise that many products are covered in symbols, which can have many different meanings. Companies use production and handling claims as a way to differentiate their products in the marketplace. Understanding and deciphering between the different certified food labels can be a challenge for businesses. Food products can have symbols related to ingredients, nutritional information, dietary restrictions, and allergens but what are they and how can my product qualify for them?


USDA Organic


Produced by the USDA’s National Organic Program, this label represents the regulations and standards for products that are labeled as being produced organically. These products must

Organic Labeling

have been produced in an environment that promotes sustainability where no synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and/or genetic engineering is present. Any land that is used to produce raw organic commodities must not have had prohibited substances applied to it for the 3 consecutive years.


There are five steps that a farm needs to take in order to receive organic certification:

  1. The farm or business will need to adopt organic practices for a minimum of 3 years, select a USDA-accredited certifying agent, and submit an application and fees to the certifying agent.

  2. The certifying agent will then review the application to verify that the organic practices adopted comply with USDA organic regulations.

  3. An inspector will then conduct an on-site inspection of the operation.

  4. The certifying agent will then review the application and the inspector’s report to determine if the applicant complies with the USDA organic regulations.

  5. The certifying agent issues organic certificate.

To maintain organic certification, the certified organic farm or business must go through an annual review and inspection process.


Non-GMO Project Verified


The Non-GMO Project seal verifies that the product was made in an environment dedicated to NO Genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, creating combinations of plant and animal genes that do not occur in nature. The Non-GMO Project offers independent verification of testing and GMO controls for U.S. and Canada based products.

In order to become Non-GMO Project Verified, first, your company must pick a Technical Administrator. The Non-GMO Project works with four independent Technical Administrators to provide unbiased product evaluations according to the Non-GMO Project Standard. Once a

Non-GMO Certified

Technical Administrator is selected, a contract agreement will need to be signed. Next, the product verification program application for the Non-GMO Project will need to be completed. Then the chosen Technical Administrator will design and guide your company through the product evaluation process. Once the evaluation has been successfully completed, a Certificate of Verification will be issued and your company is ready to go!


On average, the process takes 3 to 6 months depending on the attributes of the product and how quickly you can submit the required documentation for the product evaluation. Once verified as a Non-GMO product, the product will then be reviewed on an annual basis and an updated Certificate of Verification will be provided.

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