What Does Certified Organic Mean?
Many think that organic foods are limited to vegetables and fruits. In fact, there is no limit to the types of foods that can, and do, qualify for the certified organic label, including animal products. When a food is labeled with the official USDA certified organic label, it means that the product has met stringent requirements with regard to how it is grown, handled, and processed from the producer to the market.
In short, for fruits, vegetables, and grains, the products must be grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on land that has been free of these chemicals for at least three years. The producer must meet specific environmental standards of land, water, and air quality. The products must be kept separate from any non-organic products from the producer through to the point-of-sale. Producers, handlers, and processors are inspected periodically by third-party inspectors to ensure compliance at all levels.
In the case of certified organic animal products, the animals have been fed only certified organic grains and foods that are free of hormones, antibiotics, drugs, genetically modified foods, and animal by-products. Antibiotics are only administered in case of infection. Additionally, there are requirements that the animals must be allowed freedom of movement and fresh air exposure.