Organic Labeling Standards

The rules for labeling organic retail products, both raw and processed, are addressed under the “Product Composition” section of the USDA organic regulations. The regulations cover the wording allowed on both the front panel and the information panel of a packaged product. 

Principal display panel: portion of the package most likely to be seen by customers at the time of purchase. Your certifying agent will review and approve each of your product labels to ensure compliance.

Information panel: includes includes ingredient statement (list of ingredients contained in a product, from highest to lowest percentage of final product) and other product information.

The four categories of labeling based on product composition & the labeling specifications for each are summarized below:

“100 percent organic” 

“100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc.—can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”

Principal display panel: May include USDA organic seal and/or 100 percent organic claim.

Information Panel: Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.

“Organic” 

“Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or nonagricultural products that are on the National List.1

Principal display panel: May include USDA organic seal and/or organic claim.

Information Panel: Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.

“Made with Organic ______”

“Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.

Principal display panel: May state “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).” Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere, represent finished product as organic, or state “made with organic ingredients.”

Information Panel: Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.

Specific Ingredient Listings

The specific organic ingredients may be listed in the ingredient statement of products containing less than 70 percent organic contents—for example, “Ingredients: water, barley, beans, organic tomatoes, salt.”

Principal display panel: Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere or the word “organic” on principal display panel.

Information Panel: May only list certified organic ingredients as organic in the ingredient list and the percentage of organic ingredients. Remaining ingredients are not required to follow the USDA organic regulations.

Exemptions & Exclusions

Producers who market less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually are not required to apply for organic certification. They must, however, comply with the organic production and handling requirements of the regulations, including recordkeeping (records must be kept for at least 3 years). The products from such noncertified operations cannot be used as organic ingredients in processed products produced by another operation; such noncertified products also are not allowed to display the USDA certified organic seal.

Detailed Standards, Factsheets & Other Resources