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When Is 'Organic' Really Organic?

Updated on June 19, 2010

If we see food and skin care products that are labeled as 'organic', most of us would automatically assume that they can trust this to be the truth. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and you might be surprised at just what 'organic' actually means in some respects.


In the US, Canada and Australia, ingredients must be at least 95% organic for food to be given the organic label. They must also refrain from containing artificial food additives and be produced on a less artificial basis in comparison to their non-organic counterparts. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that a product must contain solely organic ingredients to be classed as '100 % organic'. If a product isn't claiming to be entirely organic, there can be non-organic ingredients but for food products, this can only be up to 5% and the non-organic ingredients must be on the list of approved non-organic ingredients put out by the USDA.


'Organic' cosmetics are growing in popularity as consumers become more aware of the possible risks regarding parabens. There isn't much in the way of regulation in organic cosmetics and skin care products so you need to be careful to avoid buying items that are claiming to be organic but aren't actually much different to 'regular' beauty products.

You'll often find that beauty products are marketed as being 'natural'. While this is undoubtedly a desirable attribute, it doesn't mean that it's organic. Even if the label does claim that a particular product is organic, don't assume that all of the ingredients are automatically organic. However, a product that claims to contain a certain percentage of organic ingredients (for example, 95% organic) is legally obliged to be able to back that up so you can have more confidence in these advertisements.

Consumers are often advised to look for cosmetics that have the USDA organic seal. To qualify to have this badge on their products, manufacturers must register with the USDA and open up their facilities to annual audits.


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    • dippykitty profile image

      Sally 7 years ago from UK

      Wow, that's bad! Just shows how easily people can be misled into buying things that aren't really organic.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your explicit hub. In England there was a case where the supplier labelled it organic and it was nothing but. This went on for two years. The supermarket never check, apparently, the goods.