Organic food standards are good for consumers because they make food more environmentally friendly and more sustainable.
But consumers should also know that the organic standards are a starting point, and it’s important to make sure they are as stringent as possible, says John W. Whitehead, director of the Center for Food Safety.
“There are other issues that consumers should be aware of, too, such as the health risks of pesticides and GMOs,” he says.
Widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals is often linked to adverse health outcomes, but studies are sparse and no one knows the long-term health effects.
But if consumers think organic food standards and the food they buy are safe, they can make informed choices.
Here are some questions to ask when buying organic food: How can I find out if a food meets organic standards?
There are two primary ways to determine if a product meets organic or nonorganic standards: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the National Organic Program (NOP).
A U.K. study found that consumers can search for organic foods on Amazon, which is not a required part of the organic program.
A search for nonorganic foods will show results that are less detailed than organic products.
Consumers can also look up the ingredient lists of products on the USDA’s website, where organic and nonorganic ingredients are listed.
There are also some consumer groups, such the National Consumers League and the Center on Food Safety, that have started websites where consumers can request more detailed information.
For example, consumers can go to the website of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), which has the authority to investigate food safety issues in the United States.
Consumers should also ask about the ingredient list on the NOP website, says Whitehead.
Consumers need to make informed decisions about what to buy and how to use organic or nontoxic ingredients.
Is there a free sample pack for organic products?
Consumers can purchase samples for organic and nontoxic food, according to the Nop website.
Organic food and non-organic food should be mixed in a free, non-toxic food packaging, says W. Michael Tice, senior vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Association of Organic Consumers.
Consumers also should consider how much of each ingredient is in the food.
Non-organic ingredients in food should not exceed 0.5 percent of the total ingredients, according the Nops website.
Are there labels on organic foods that list the amount of pesticide, herbicide, or other chemicals that were used?
There is no labeling on organic products, says Tice.
However, some organic brands use the label, which tells consumers the amount and amount of the pesticide, which could lead consumers to assume organic products are less toxic, says Mark Phelan, a senior food scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
For organic products that do have labels, it is important to be aware that they have not been tested by independent labs.
For non-certified organic foods, “there’s not much data that we know that shows that they are more toxic than conventional organic food,” says Phelans group’s executive director, Mark Siegel.
What if I’m unsure whether an organic food has a pesticide?
Organic food manufacturers typically test organic foods to make certain that they do not have pesticides.
If a food is certified organic, “it is generally required to carry a label on the label that says it meets the food safety standards,” says Dr, David Stott, professor of food science and director of nutrition science at Northwestern University. “
If there is no label on it, it’s not clear that the product meets the standards for organic,” says Stans, who has published a number of studies that show that consumers are misinformed when it comes to organic food.
If a food is certified organic, “it is generally required to carry a label on the label that says it meets the food safety standards,” says Dr, David Stott, professor of food science and director of nutrition science at Northwestern University.
Stott also is an organic-food researcher, but he says there are no official standards that he can cite for the USDA and NOP standards.
But, he says, there are guidelines for consumers to follow when buying food that does not have a label.
What about testing?
There have been reports of tests that did not meet the requirements for organic testing, according.
The USDA and the NOPS have issued guidance to organic retailers to test organic food products, according W. William Stott.
But there are concerns that organic retailers are not testing their products to ensure they do indeed meet the NOPA’s standards.
For some organic food brands, the labels do not list the testing criteria, or states that the tests did not yield results.
Stokes says he believes that the industry needs to do more testing to determine what is going on.
How can you check organic foods for pesticide residues?
There may be pesticide residues in organic foods in the trace amounts that organic