The announcement of a final rule establishing a comprehensive national standard for organic food labeling was commended by the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) as "a step forward for uniform food labeling standards."  But NFPA also cautioned that "It must be made clear that the 'organic' label on certain foods does not mean that they are safer or more nutritious than conventional food products."

"NFPA strongly urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture - in all its communications to consumers - to make it clear that the organic label is not a 'seal of approval,' or that conventional products are somehow inferior in terms of safety or nutrition," said Kelly Johnston, NFPA's Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications.  "The term 'organic' is a marketing term, referring to the manner in which the food was produced, not an indicator of quality or safety."

Johnston noted that "NFPA regrets that products treated with irradiation or produced through the use of agricultural biotechnology are excluded from bearing the term 'organic,' as many of those products offer real benefits to both producers and consumers.  For example, consumers with compromised immune systems might seek products that have been irradiated to ensure that they are free of certain pathogens.  Excluding the use of irradiation on otherwise organic products means that some consumers will be denied this option."

Johnston stated that "NFPA commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture for establishing a meaningful national standard for the marketing term 'organic.'  It is in the best interests of consumers - and of food producers - that there be consistent labeling requirements for food products.  Uniformity of labeling standards benefits consumers by providing them with consistent information on food products, wherever they are purchased."

NFPA is the voice of the $460 billion food processing industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, nutrition, technical and regulatory matters and consumer affairs. 

For more information on this issue, contact Timothy Willard, NFPA's Vice President of Communications, at (202) 637-8060, or visit NFPA's Website at www.nfpa-food.org.