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In today's world of processed foods and industrial farming practices, ingredients and preparation procedures are often uncertain. To help clear up the confusion, many products are now "certified" by respected organizations to put consumers at ease and provide fast, easy identification of the products they're looking for. From religious institutions to the U.S. Government, there are hundreds of groups that inspect, test, and certify thousands of food producers worldwide using an extensive range of standards.


Gluten-Free Food Labels

Many of today's consumers are opting for gluten-free diets to combat celiac disease, lose weight, or avoid the symptoms of gluten intolerance. For a product to be gluten free, it obviously must lack the presence of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. A diet of this type rules out most grain products, but the consumption of rice, meats, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes are permitted.

There are multiple certifying bodies that offer gluten-free certification, each with their own criteria that includes testing the gluten content of the finished product. Most agencies require gluten-free products to contain less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, while the CSA Seal of Recognition requires them to contain less than 5 ppm. These bodies all have stricter standards than the FDA requirement of less than 20 ppm, and they also certify non-food products like lotions whereas the FDA only certifies FDA-regulated foods.

Organic Food Labels

Wherever you turn, you see signs and food labels for "natural organic food", but beyond a sales point, what does that actually mean? Biologically, "organic" refers to any material that is carbon-based. When we use the word in conversation, we're usually referring to something that occurs naturally. However, when it comes to food, the definition of organic becomes a bit more complicated.

Under federal law, if a product displays the word "organic" anywhere on its packaging or advertising, it must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Those "organic ingredients" cannot contain, or be produced with, chemicals, additives, synthetics, pesticides, or genetically engineered substances.

Non-GMO Food Labels

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants that have been genetically altered through engineering in a lab. GMOs are commonly used to increase the size or flavor of the product, or to act as a pesticide for the plant.

GMOs are regulated by the FDA and meet their standard set of safety requirements required by other plant-based food products. Despite this approval, the Institute for Responsible Technology has cited several reasons to avoid GMOs, which include health and environmental concerns.

Fair Trade Food Labels

People often wonder, "What does fair trade mean?" Fair trade is a social movement with the goal of improving the lives of agricultural producers in the developing world by selling some of their goods at above-market prices. The movement also aims to educate workers on how to take advantage of the free market system in order to remain profitable, regardless of changes in the global market.

In most instances, farmers from developing countries will join to form a cooperative to pay the costs of conforming to the Fair Trade standards of production, and to generate enough crop yields to make a profit. Fair trade federations, of which there are several, collect small fees from the farmers for marketing purposes. Import organizations, which are certified by one or more of the federations, collect the product from the cooperatives to sell in overseas markets at a marked-up price.


To make a long story short, whenever you purchase a product with a fair trade symbol on it, a portion of your purchase is going towards helping support farmers and cooperatives in foreign countries, which in turn, support their local communities with jobs, social development projects, or a number of other benefits.

Religious Certifications

Long before the U.S. Government developed rules and regulations for food manufacture, two of the oldest and most popular religions in the world had their own specifications, procedures, and rules for the production of food and drink. Islam and Judaism each have their own distinct certification methods, halal and kosher respectively, which apply to every aspect of food production and consumption.


Halal is an Arabic word that translates to "lawful" or "permissible". Although the term applies to a variety of life's daily tasks, when it relates to food it concerns the composition of the product and the environment in which it was produced.

Colinas Verdes
Food Certifications.PNG
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