Curiosity finally got the best of me. My wife and I purchase foods that bear ORGANIC labels. We pay extra for those foods because we hope they may be fresher and healthier. I wanted to know what those labels mean and what don’t they mean?
A visit to https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/organic-standards provides lots of answers. The USDA has a full set of criteria that must be followed. They cover farm crops, livestock and poultry, and the handling needed to get them all to market.
But what happens if one of the steps along the way is compromised? Compromises do occur and may be accidental or purposeful. Some missed steps have less impact on the finished product than others. For example, quoting from the crop standards:
· “Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.”
My thought: These are often difficult for the planters to be assured of at planting time.
· “The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.”
My thought: Failure in any of these would negate any ORGANIC claim.
Enforcement is seen to by thousands of federal and state inspectors. However, the food chain has millions of links. Inspectors cannot possibly detect all violations. Additionally, massive quantities of food are imported from other countries where our regulations do not directly apply and cannot be enforced.
Eat your next meal with assurance. Occasional food recalls do occur but are generally successful. Our country has achieved a high level of food source safety. Our organic foods are the most recent advance in food science. However, assuring100% effective enforcement is impossible. The consuming public is left hoping that all those involved in our food chain are honorable and trustworthy.
Enforcement of the USDA Organic Regulations:
Penalty Matrix See page 7