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USDA tightens organic food label rules

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its regulations on foods labeled “organic” on Thursday, as part of an effort to close loopholes and increase confidence in the agency’s organic seal.

The USDA touted the new rule, which aims to increase oversight and enforcement of products labeled organic, as the “biggest update to organic regulations” since 1990.

“This success is another demonstration that USDA fully stands behind the organic brand,” Jenny Lester Moffitt, the agency’s under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said in a statement.

The new rule requires more businesses in the supply chain to be certified as organic and mandates that all organic products entering the U.S. have an import certificate from the USDA’s National Organic Program.

It also requires that nonretail containers used to ship and store organic products be labeled as such to “reduce the mishandling of organic products” and “support traceability” and calls for the use of standardized certificates and uniform training and qualifications for certifying agents.

The updated regulations come in the wake of several recent indictments for fraud schemes involving organic products. 

Two Minnesota farmers were charged last week with conspiring to defraud buyers of more than $46 million by falsely labeling grain as organic, and several individuals from Turkey and two entities from Dubai were charged earlier this month for shipping non-organic soybeans and corn from Eastern Europe to the U.S. labeled as organic.

Source: The Hill

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