USDA to crack down on organic food label fraud
New rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make it harder to claim the "organic" label on foods.
The department announced this week it will strengthen enforcement of its current guidelines, which state that organic products must be produced without toxic pesticides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or genetic engineering.
The new regulations will require certification for all imported organic foods. Inspections will increase and businesses will need to prove all parts of their supply chain are organic.
"This is the single largest revision to the organic standards since they've been published initially in 2000," said Tom Chapman, CEO of the Organic Trade Association.
The new rule will take effect in March, and companies have a year to meet the new requirements.
Chapman said the stricter guidelines will give consumers confidence that their products are certified organic.
"It streamlines the authority of the USDA to bring enforcement actions against anyone who's doing anything fraudulent," he said.
Nationwide, sales of organic foods have more than doubled over the past 10 years, according to the Organic Trade Association. In 2020, sales soared to nearly $62 billion, association said.
Chapman said consumers can know if their foods are truly organic by looking for the USDA organic seal.
"That's your vote of confidence that this product is truly organic," he said.
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