Certified organic … chemical free … dolphin-safe … the stamps and slogans on food labels make a lot of promises, but can they back it up? Audobon magazine breaks down which labels are meaningful and which are USDA-certified bull crap.

These labels can't be used without independent verification:

  • USDA Organic
  • Fair Trade 
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Food Alliance
  • Demeter Biodynamic
  • Salmon-Safe
  • Bird Friendly
  • Certified Humane Raised and Handled
  • FishWise 
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Healthy Grown Potatoes

These should be taken with a grain of salt — they may mean something, but they don't have to:

  • Raised Without Antibiotics
  • Natural
  • Free Range
  • Grass Fed 
  • Nutri Clean Residue Free Certification
  • Marine Stewardship Council

These can be used by anybody at any time and are therefore basically meaningless:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

  • Cruelty free
  • Cage free
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Nature’s friend
  • No chemicals
  • Vegetarian fed

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.