Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food Labels: Local - Organic - Healthy - Sustainable

Consumers are bombarded with ads, labels, brands, logos and other food-related information. Some labels are accurate and others are simply a new twist on traditional snake oil sales techniques.

Across North America, Federal, Provincial, State and local governments are starting to address food labeling by drafting laws meant to protect consumers.

In the USA, no term is more vague than "organic". Decades after the term became popular, Federal agencies have failed to define the term or regulate its use.

When it comes to food labeling, several states have drafted regulations that pertain to use of food terms. In Maryland,  regulations related to the term "local" have been drafted by the state's Department of Agriculture (MDA). The policy seeks to clarify the definition of "local" for the state's consumers. After reviewing initial comments, MDA redrafted the regulations for 2011.

According to Secretary Hance: "With the increased interest in buying local and the current lack of agreement on defining local, we feel it is paramount that consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their food purchases..."

The law authorizes the Secretary to regulate the use of the terms "local" or "locally grown" when used to advertise agricultural and seafood products. The new regulations will affect labeling for raw meat, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, shellfish and processed dairy products.

source: MDA

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