Understanding the USDA Organic Label

Article Author: Jade Wagner, Public Health Major, Class of 2024, Co-Director 

At the heart of our well-being lies the power of choice. It’s about being informed and making decisions that nurture our health. One transformative choice Protect Our Breasts stands by is opting for organic products – a path free from GMOs, toxic and persistent pesticides, and artificial preservatives. Let’s break down the four different organic labels and what they signify:

  1.  “100 Percent Organic”: This label indicates a product made entirely of organic ingredients, with minimal processing. The USDA Organic seal or 100 percent organic claim may appear on the front of the package. The name and address of the organic certification agent must appear on the package.
  2.  “Organic”: Products bearing this label contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients, allowing up to 5 percent nonorganic components as long as they’re not commercially available as organic and are reviewed and allowed. The USDA Organic seal can be used on these products. The non-organic ingredients cannot be GMOs. The name and address of the organic certification agent must appear on the package.
  3. “Made with Organic _____”: These products consist of at least 70 percent organic ingredients and might list up to three organic elements on the front of the package. However, they cannot use the USDA organic seal. The name and address of the organic certification agent must appear on the package.
  4. Specific Organic Ingredient Listings: In products with less than 70 percent organic content, specific organic ingredients may be listed on the ingredients panel and the USDA organic seal cannot be used.

These labels help guide us in the selection of products. Yet, beyond labels, it’s vital to understand what “organic” truly means. Organic is more than a label; it signifies a commitment to approved methods that embrace cultural, biological, and mechanical farming and processing practices. These practices promote resource cycling, ecological balance, and biodiversity conservation. It means saying “no” to synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge.

When you are in the grocery store, how do you identify organic products? Look for the USDA organic seal or organic certification agent name. This emblem certifies products with 95 percent or more organic content, ensuring you’re making a healthy choice.

Certified organic farmers steer clear of synthetic pesticides prevalent in conventional agriculture. Research links chemical pesticides to adverse effects on human health, wildlife, and the environment. Triazines, like atrazine, simazine, glyphosate and ametryn have been associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity, potentially contributing to breast cancer incidence.

As always, Protect Our Breasts is here to share this information to make your experience in the grocery store more manageable and safer. When navigating the grocery aisles, search for the digital code starting with “9” on fruits and vegetables – a telltale sign of organic produce. Always look for the USDA Organic certification, avoiding misleading terms like “natural” or “clean” that lack regulation or standardized verification. In a world where choices shape our health, embracing organic options empowers us. 


Muñoz, J. P., Silva-Pavez, E., Carrillo-Beltrán, D., & Calaf, G. M. (2023). Occurrence and exposure assessment of glyphosate in the environment and its impact on human beings. Environmental Research, 231, 116201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2023.116201

Pandey, A. (2023). Study on the cancer by chemical pesticides exposure to pesticide applicators, farm workers and consumers: Urgent need for safer eco-friendly pesticides. World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews, 17(2), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.30574/wjarr.2023.17.2.0199

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. USDA Organic. (n.d.). https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic

Aided by ChatGPT, human-checked and edited content for accuracy and clarity.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is the author’s opinion. Our authors are not scientists. We are not providing medical advice, but simply sharing publicly available information. When we reference data and databases, we do so with the caveat that most are only as good as the data they are based on. While POB strives to make the information as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the completeness, or adequacy of the contents of any site that is shared, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of these sites. POB goes to great lengths to avoid declaring shared products as “safe” as there is no legal definition of the word “safe” at this time.

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