Natural and Organic Label Claims


September 30, 2020 - <>, <> & Ashley Kuschel,

Natural and Organic label claims are used on food products to describe how they were grown, raised and/or processed. Two federal government agencies oversee the production and labeling of food in the United States to ensure that the label claims are truthful and not misleading. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for overseeing meat, poultry, egg products (not shell eggs), and catfish. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all other food products, including shell eggs.

Natural, All Natural or 100% Natural

  • USDA definition- “A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").”
  • FDA definition- “Nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food”.

Because the terms “natural”, "all natural" or "100% natural" do not carry a standard definition from both the FDA and USDA, food marketers can use the terms as they deem fit.


Organic food products can be placed into three categories. The product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the informational panel.

100% Organic

  • All ingredients must be certified organic
  • Any processing aids, such as pectin or cornstarch must be organic  


  • All ingredients , except those specified as allowable on the 'National List', must be certified organic
  • 95% or more organic ingredients. Non-organic ingredients allowed may be used up to a combined total of 5% (excluding salt and water)

Made with Organic

  • At least 70% of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water)
  • Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced but still must be produced without excluded methods
  • Non-agricultural products must be specifically allowed on the 'National List'
    Source: USDA National Organic Program

On-Farm Organic Production Practices

Organic producers must follow strict production and labeling requirements that are overseen and certified by the National Organic Program.

  • Pesticides and fertilizers used in organic foods must be naturally occurring and not from a synthetic source
  • The National Organic Program provides a 'National List' of allowed and prohibited substances
  • Prohibits the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and the application of sewage sludge



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