- WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumers who want to expand their menu of organic foods
soon will find organic meat and poultry products on store shelves.
- The Agriculture Department agreed Thursday
to allow the labels while the agency continues work on national standards
for all organic foods.
- ``This announcement means more information
and more choice for American consumers,'' Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman
said. ``It will help organic family farmers and ranchers further expand
their already growing markets.''
- Organic certification generally means
no pesticides, herbicides or preservatives have been sprayed on the growing
fruits or vegetables. For livestock, organic producers mostly shun the
use of antibiotics and confined feeding areas, opting instead to give organic
animals access to the outdoors, fresh air and sunlight.
- Katherine DiMatteo, executive director
of the Organic Trade Association, called the decision ``a victory for the
organic industry and consumers.''
- ``We've been working on this issue for
about eight years,'' DiMatteo said. ``I think people have an interest in
having choices in the marketplace.''
- DiMatteo said consumers will see the
first organic meat, poultry and egg products in stores by early spring.
Certified organic meat processors will have to apply to USDA for label
- Naturally grown fruits, vegetables and
other products have been allowed to carry the organic label for some time.
Until Thursday, USDA had prohibited the label for meat, which is more strictly
- To alleviate the disparity and respond
to a growing organic industry, USDA is developing national standards to
cover the entire industry. The rules would replace a hodgepodge of state
and private certification programs that sometimes differ on their definition
- Glickman chose to allow meat labels in
the interim, partly because development of national standards is taking
longer than expected, officials said. Aides said he also thought the rule
would provide a boost for organic farmers, who tend to be smaller family
- The organic industry has grown in recent
years as more and more consumers become worried about health effects of
pesticides and other chemicals in food and about Earth's ability to sustain
- The Organic Trade Association estimates
that the organic industry is growing at least 20 percent a year, with current
overall sales of about $4.2 billion.