Taken from Pet Age, July 2005, page 32.

The tems “natural” and “organic” often are used interchangeably, but they have differing regulatory meanings.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials defines “natural” as “a feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources… not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts that might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.” Synthetic nutrients such as vitamins also are permissable.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “organic” as “grown, raised or produced without chemical pesticides, irradiation, genetic modification, cloning, hormones or antibiotics.” The regulations also detail the methods and practices that can be used in producing and handling organic crops and livestock. For example, livestock must have access to the outdoors.

The USDA’s National Organic Program breaks organic products down into the following labeling categories:

  • 100 percent organic. Product must contain only organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt).
  • Organic. Product must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt).
  • Made with organic. Product must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the term “organic” other than to identify the specific ingredients that are organically produced in the ingredients statement.

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