Decoding Organic Food Labels –

Decoding Organic Food Labels

Chock-full of good intentions, we all do our best to protect and respect the environment. Cloth shopping bags, eating organic, we go all out! However, it is sometimes easier said than done, and we’re often left confused by the various organic certification labels on products. We’ve got the 411 to help you make more informed decisions.


An organic food product respects the Canadian organic norms by the federal legislature. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) verifies that products sold in Canada conform to these norms.
Here is a list of certification bodies accredited or known by the CFIA (including Ecocert). So if you see any of them included on a product, it’s a good sign!

The list of prescriptions and prohibitions aimed at organic farmers is long… here are a few well-known ones.

Vegetable products:
– It is prohibited to use an outlawed product, including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or GMOs.
– There are certain measures to adopt, aiming to prevent the contamination from neighbouring crops (such as adding a buffer in between).

Animal products:
– Only entirely organic foods and supplements are approved.
– It is prohibited to use antibiotics, growth hormones or GMOs.

Since 2009, all organic products need to respect Organic Product Regulations. What this means, in regards to labelling, is that…

  • Only products with 95% organic content or more can be labelled organic and carry a certification logo (such as Ecocert or Organic Canada).
  • Multi-ingredient products with 70 to 95% organic content must print the “% organic ingredients”. These products should not carry the logo.
  • Multi-ingredient products with organic content lower than 70% need to invoke organic content only in the ingredients list of the product. These products should not carry the logo.
Not only do we need to consider Canadian norms, but also those abroad. Since Canada doesn’t have the capacity to answer the demand for organic products, 70 to 80% of organic products are imported (mainly from the United States).
So we’re left to ask ourselves what is better for the environment: buying non-local organic products, or buying local without the logo? Of course, when you buy a local product carrying the organic logo, don’t hesitate to grab it!

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