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5 Things to Know About Labeling Organic Dairy Products

February 16, 2017

According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), dairy is the second largest seller in organic foods. When combined with other farm fresh food items, they make up more than one half of all organic food sales. However, not just any company can use their FDA labels to call themselves organic. Companies must meet strict regulations in accordance with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). Below, we’ll discuss the top five things that companies should know about the process of labeling organic dairy products.

1.    Organic: What Does It Mean?

The USDA’s National Organic Program defines organic dairy products as products that are produced without the use of genetic engineering, irradiation, synthetic fertilizers, and sewage sludge. Additionally, organic foods must meet the rules and regulations of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

2.    Organic Doesn’t Mean Non-GMO

Organic foods and non-GMO foods are not the same; however, certified organic foods must be free of GMOs and genetic engineering. For example, organic milk must be milked from organic cows, and the cows must not be fed GMO ingredients. The cows must not be fed antibiotics to promote growth. On the other hand, non-GMO foods do not need to be 100 percent organic, and synthetic pesticides and antibiotics may be present in Non-GMO foods.

3.    Ice Cream Must Meet Certain Regulations

To meet regulations that apply to dairy industry FDA labels, ice cream products must contain at least ten percent dairy milkfat. Additionally, they must not contain more than 100 percent overrun (the amount of air whipped into the ice cream during freezing). Ice cream products that contain less than ten percent milkfat or more than 100 percent overrun must be labeled as frozen dairy desserts and not ice cream. So, if an organic frozen dessert product meets these requirements, it can be labeled as ice cream. However, organic non-dairy frozen desserts or vegan frozen desserts cannot be labeled as ice cream if they do not contain at least ten percent milkfat.

4.    Certain Drugs Are Accepted

Although USDA organic guidelines prohibit farmers from feeding their animals antibiotics and growth-producing hormones, de-wormers and pain medication are both allowed if preventative measures fail or if the animal falls ill. However, if an animal does end up being treated with antibiotics or prohibited drugs, the animal and its by-products may not be sold as organic. A list of approved synthetic substances can be found here.

5.    Organic Management

According to the USDA, dairy-producing animals must receive at least one year of organic management before the milk can be considered organic. However, certain exceptions may apply so we recommend consulting the National Organic Program website for additional information. The USDA organic certification process takes place in a series of steps, including the amount of time it takes to bring animals up to USDA organic standards. 

To learn more about labeling organic dairy products and for assistance on creating USDA-approved FDA labels, contact Sheet-Labels.com. Our dairy product labels are available as printed labels or blank labels, whether you need cheese labels or labels for milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, or ice cream.

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