If you read labels – and as an informed consumer you really need to – you know that there are MANY labels out there. Too many in fact.
But get ready because another one’s on the way. This one, though, actually makes sense.
Quality Assurance International (QAI), a USDA accredited certifying agency and one of the largest organic certifiers in North America, has developed a Transitional label . The plan is to incentivize farmers to transition their land to organic farming methods.
For those who aren’t aware, it take three years for a farm to actually be considered organic once it’s stopped using conventional farming methods and begun full organic farming. The interim three years are considered “transitional”.
But here’s where consumers will need to pay attention.
According to a press release from AgriSystems International, there are 2 types of Certified Transitional products on the market:
- those with between 25 to 51 percent transitional content. These will be labeled with claims such as “contains 45 percent transitional ingredients” and the transitional ingredients can be listed on the back of the package.
- products with between 51 and 100 percent certified transitional ingredients.
QAI’s website says that only products with at least 51 percent certified transitional content will be allowed to sport the new QAI Certified Transitional mark on their packaging. The manufacturers will be able to claim the amount of transitional content on the packaging – “74 percent”, “Made with transitional barley”, etc.
This past spring, the Organic Trade Association officially submitted a proposal to the USDA for a certification and labeling program that allows U.S. farmers transitioning to certified-organic status to sell their crops for a premium over conventional during the three-year transitional period. But this proposal would only let certified producers at the manufacturing and distribution level label their products with the new label – not at the consumer level.
But however it plays out, the bottom line is that the more transparency there is, the better for consumers. And as more large manufacturers sign on for this, the more consumer demand for green / eco-friendly / sustainable products grows, the more healthy choices we’ll see.