Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy on September 02, 2015

Sources

USDA: "Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means."; Mayo Clinic: "Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?"

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Video Transcript

DR. MICHAEL SMITH: If you've been in a grocery store wondering what exactly organic means, here's a quick explainer.

To be USDA organic, food producers can't use any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs.

Any meat, eggs, or dairy foods can't have growth hormones or antibiotics, and animals need to be able to graze on pastures and they can only eat organic food themselves.

If something is labeled 100% organic, that means all ingredients have to be completely organic.

If a food is labeled just organic, it must be at least 95% organic.

And if it's 95% to 100% organic, it gets a USDA organic seal.

Foods can say they're made with organic ingredients if they are at least 70% organic, but they don't get the USDA seal.

And anything less than 70%, they can't use the word on the label at all.

Look out for these terms on your next grocery trip.

For WebMD, I'm Dr. Michael Smith.