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Organic Labeling Policy

Dolick, Kirstin N., MS; Pham, Linh D., BA; Mendes Candido de Oliveira, Gabriella, BS; Savaiano, Dennis A., PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000274
Nutrition Policy

In the United States, organic label claims are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture through a unique and complex 3-tiered categorization. Organic labeling rules were first introduced on a national scale in the 1990s. Over the last 3 decades, the organic market has continued to attract more consumers and manufacturers. Other nations currently regulate 'organic” claims allowing for the international trade of products using only 1 category. The purpose of this article is to describe 3 categories currently used in the United States and to discuss the potential of reforming the current system to provide clarity for consumers and enhance international trade.

Kirstin N. Dolick, MS, is a doctoral student in the Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Her research investigates the processes that occur and factors that influence decision making. She is specifically interested in how consumers make decisions related to nutrition and how organizational policy influences these choices.

Linh D. Pham, BA, graduated from Purdue University with a master’s degree in agricultural economics. Before coming to Purdue University, she worked in development projects supporting ethnic minority communities in Northern Vietnam to improve their livelihoods. One of the projects was to support organic smallholder farmers in Tan Lac District, Hoa Binh Province. She studied the comparative profitability of conventional and organic vegetable production, as well as characteristics of organic farmers in this area for her master’s thesis.

Gabriella Mendes Candido de Oliveira, BS, is a PhD candidate in Food Process Engineering in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. Her research is focused on development of novel food processes to ensure food safety and quality and to meet consumers’ demand for safe foods with fresh characteristics. Furthermore, to address safety and quality challenges, prediction models are an integral part of the process design and are necessary for regulatory approval. Ms de Oliveira’s research aims to develop reliable mathematical models that describe the kinetics of inactivation of microbial cells in realistic processing conditions.

Dennis A. Savaiano, PhD, is the Virginia Meredith Professor of Nutrition Policy in the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, where he served as dean from 1995 to 2010 and associate provost from 2010 to 2013. Professor Savaiano is also the director of the North Central Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence, a US Department of Agriculture -funded center of excellence, and is associate director of Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Community Health Partnerships. He has studied lactose digestion and tolerance since the 1980s and is currently developing social network assessment tools for community health coalitions. This article resulted from his course in food and nutrition policy at Purdue University.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Dennis A. Savaiano, PhD, 700 W State St, Stone 204, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (

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