‘Organic’ and ‘Natural’: What’s the Difference?

‘Organic’ and ‘Natural’: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between organic and natural? Isn’t “natural food” just as safe and healthy as organic food? Unfortunately, natural does not mean organic and comes with no guarantees. “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.” As a result, food manufacturers often place a “natural” label on foods containing heavily processed ingredients.

What about organic? Organic is the most heavily regulated food system. Only organic guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced – and unannounced – certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust.

Learn about the USDA certified organic label and read on for more about the difference between organic, natural and conventional products.

What does the Organic label promise you?Unlike natural and other eco-label claims, only organic offers government-backed assurance that products are grown and processed without the use of toxic chemicals, antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones. Read on to learn what makes organic the most heavily regulated food system, and why it’s worth it to trust the organic label above others.

1 Comment

  • Cindy Jefferson Posted August 11, 2016 11:52 am

    Besides organic food labels, USDA also regulates the use of voluntary terms that a producer of eggs, poultry or meat may use:

    “Free-range” on a label means a flock (as in poultry) “was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered. “

    “Cage-free” indicates that the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.

    “Natural” only pertains to meat, poultry, and egg products that are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients, says the USDA. “There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.”

    “Grass-fed” means an animal receives a majority of its nutrients from grass throughout life. Use of the “grass-fed” label does not restrict the use of antibiotics, hormones or pesticides, says the USDA.

    “Organic” animals may eat pasture grass as well as grain. And some meat products that meet both criteria may be labeled “grass-fed organic.”

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