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Organic Food Oversight

USDA unveils a new plan to stamp out organic fraud.

Organic food label

Organic food fraud—slipping in nonorganic materials and portraying them as organic—is an easy opportunity for certain producers to deceive the general public. But soon you may have more confidence that your organic flour and organic beef are as advertised.

In response to the industry and consumer demand for better quality control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a draft of new rules aimed at stopping organic food fraud to “protect integrity” in the supply chain and “build consumer and industry trust” in the agency’s certified organic label.

The new guidelines propose updating organic regulations to mandate unannounced inspections, to implement new traceability requirements for imported products and to put in place new oversight for the certification process. If adopted, the rules will also require organic labeling on non-retail containers, like sacks containing organic livestock feed, to “reduce the mishandling” of those products. It’s not clear yet whether these new policies might translate to higher costs for farmers or shoppers.

See also: What Do Organic and Natural Mean To You?

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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