What to look for in Food & Product Labels

Friday September 08, 2017

Organic labelling

With sustainability and organic food being a “trendy” topic lately, many food companies are piggy backing off of this without putting in the work, leaving consumers confused as to what is organic and what is just a downright marketing-ploy (think of brands using “all-natural”, “green” or “whole” without any further certification). So we’ve provided a list of certifications by category, to give you the confidence in selecting the right foods.

Produce

  • Certified Organic - In order to be certified organic producers and processors must meet all requirements as set out in the Canadian Organic Regime, they must apply to a CFIA Accredited Certification Body, and be able to show complete traceability of their products and practises. These inspections are done by an independent third party.
  • Organic - The term organic refers to an ecological method of agricultural production that respects the natural environment. Organics focuses on enhancing the health and vitality of the soil, preserving biodiversity, promoting animal welfare and preserving the ecological integrity of our environment. No synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides/herbicides or genetically modified organisms are permitted in organics.

At Community Natural Foods, our claim to fame is that 99% of our produce items are organic/certified organic, which means you don’t really need to look hard for organic labels when you shop with us! You will notice that many of our produce barcodes have a 5 digit barcode starting with a 9 – that is a giveaway that a produce item is organic. Conventional barcodes will just have a 4 digit barcode starting with a 3 or a 4. We do support Certified Transitional farms that are working their way to full organic commitment. On occasions we do support some pesticide free and other small local exceptions all in keeping with Community Natural Foods’ guidelines.


Canned/Packaged Grocery Items

  • A product is only allowed to carry the USDA or Canada Organic logo if at least 95% of the ingredients are organic
  • Non-GMO Project Verified - North America’s only third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. Third-party verification is the highest quality system when it comes to product labeling and certifications because it ensures products have been comprehensively evaluated by an independent party for compliance with a standard developed by industry experts and stakeholders. Please note this standard does not include Organic status unless it also has an USDA or Canada Organic logo.

Some of our favourite Canadian Certified Organic products include: Traditional Medicinals teas, Highwood Crossing granola & oils, Simply Natural dressings, Annie's Organic mac & cheese, MadeFood granola bars, Santa Cruz juice, and Giddy Yoyo chocolate bars.

Meats & Dairy

  • Organic – cattle were raised on certified organic pasture, not confined to a feedlot and have unrestricted access to naturally graze on certified organic land. All synthetic contaminant exposure (artificial hormones, restricted antibiotic use, GMOs, artificial fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides) cannot be used.
  • Grass-fed – cattle have the ability to graze for food and are provided with supplemental alternatives. This is unregulated and we suggest buying from a trusted source, like Community Natural Foods
  • Natural – meat does not contain salt or additives, preservatives, colouring or flavouring. This is unregulated and we suggest buying from a trusted source, like Community Natural Foods
  • Grass-finish – cattle has been fed grains at some point in their lives, and spent their final weight-gain stage on grass. This is unregulated and we suggest buying from a trusted source, like Community Natural Foods

At Community Natural Foods, we pride ourselves on providing ethically raised meats, poultry and fish to our customers. That’s why you’ll only find organic, natural or grass-fed meats that are locally sourced, along with Oceanwise wild seafood on our shelves.


Seafood

  • Oceanwise - A Vancouver Aquarium conservation program, the Ocean Wise symbol assures you that option is the best choice for the health of the oceans
  • Wild – seafood that is caught in the sea, river or other natural bodies of water
  • Farmed – seafood that is raised in tanks, irrigation ditches or manmade ponds.


Eggs & Poultry

  • Organic – chickens are fed an organic diet, have no preventative antibiotics and live in a cage-free and free-range environment
  • Cage-Free – chicken do not live in battery cages, however that does not mean they aren’t crammed into a small hen house and may not go outside.
  • Free-Run/Free-Range – chickens have been given access to regularly roam and graze outdoors. There are no specific requirements as to length of time outdoors or the type of environment (indoor or outdoor)
  • Omega-3 – chickens that were provided feed containing extra flax seed, resulting in eggs that contain more Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vegetarian-fed/Grain-fed – chickens are fed grains, however unless otherwise stated, it does not mean the grain itself are organic or non-GMO
  • Pasture – chickens roam in a natural environment, eat forage and have access to coops to sleep at night


Body Care Items

  • Non-GMO Project Verified -  North America’s only third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. Third-party verification is the highest quality system when it comes to product labeling and certifications because it ensures products have been comprehensively evaluated by an independent party for compliance with a standard developed by industry experts and stakeholders.
  • Certified Natural Products Association - made up of only, or at least almost only, natural ingredients and have been manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity; avoid any ingredient with a suspected human health risk; use no animal testing in its development; use biodegradable ingredients and the most environmentally sensitive packaging. Under the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products, allowed ingredients come from or are made from a renewable resource found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral), with absolutely no petroleum compounds.
  • Cruelty-Free - do not harm or kill animals. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free, since these tests are often painful and cause the suffering and death of millions of animals every year. Please note this standard does not include Organic status unless otherwise stated.
  • Vegan - does not contain any animal ingredients or animal derived ingredients. This includes, but is not limited to, honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and many others. To many, the term “vegan” also means that a product is free from animal testing as well. Please note this standard does not include Organic status unless otherwise stated.
  • Natural – ingredients derived from natural substance. When ingredients in a product are truly natural they will not have been altered by the use of extreme heat or toxic chemicals. Please note this standard does not include Organic status unless otherwise stated.
  • Organic – ingredients are certified organic (they are usually indicated on the ingredients list)


Some of our favourite Organic and Natural body care products include: Andalou Naturals, Gabriel & Zuzu Cosmetics, Acure, Pure Creations, and Alberta Natural Products.