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Organic - The Gold Standard for Clean Label

Clean label is arguably one of the food industry’s hottest trends. It is applicable across product categories, spans both retail and foodservice, and has been listed as a top trend by Food Business News, Innova, and more. According to the International Food Information Council for Food and Health Surveys, the percent of consumers listing chemicals as their top food safety concern rose from 9% in 2011 up to 38% in 2016. This has been called the “largest shift in American food habits since World War II.”

Product developers are reformulating in response to consumer concerns about “chemicals” and growing interest in simple and healthy eating. But, clean label has no established definition and consumers have many ways of defining it. In practice it seems to mean shortening ingredients lists and reducing them to familiar sounding, “kitchen cupboard” ingredients. Most often, this involves limiting or removing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. At first glance, it appears that clean label is an overarching trend encompassing natural, non-GMO and organic. But organic certification is government regulated. How does clean label measure up?

Organic and Clean Label

As it turns out, certified organic products are automatically clean label and much, much more. Organic standards prohibit most artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. However, organic standards go further and also prohibit synthetic agricultural inputs (pesticides, herbicides and insecticides), GMOs, growth hormones and antibiotics. Clean label products could still use all of these! What’s more, there are no audit or certification programs that guarantee a product is clean label.

Certified organic has and will continue to be the gold standard for clear, clean labels and environmental sustainability. If you are cleaning up your label, you’re getting closer to the gold standard. Why not go all the way?

To learn more about organic products and certification, check out some of these News & Views posts:

Organic vs. Non-GMO: Key Differences
4 Categories of Organic Product Labels
Safeguarding Organic Integrity