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The Grocery Store Fraud You Had No Idea Is Happening

New rules are being put into place to try and stop it.
organic orange and yellow bell peppers in grocery store

Strolling through the aisles and sections of the grocery store focusing on the items on your list, you may have been unaware that some things may not be accurately labeled.

An "Organic" tag on products is more common now than it ever has been. There are several criteria the food must pass in order to get the tag. But some people are claiming that the system is fraudulent and way too many products are bypassing the rules.

The Organic Trade Association began an investigation in 2018 into the fraud. Now federal standards for certified organic products are being updated, according to Food Dive.

In order for something to get the label, more members involved in the production process will need to be certified. Also, import certificates will need to be issued for any organic product brought to the United States. Surprise inspections at production plants will be more common, and those doing the inspecting will need to meet more qualifications. These new benchmarks join others like the animal welfare requirements and the no added antibiotics or growth hormones rules already in place.

Organic products are also free of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They are not genetically modified, either. The soil organic produce is grown in also needs to have had no prohibited substances used on it for three years prior.

So while the term is often linked with being "healthier" than non-organic food, these products aren't necessarily more nutrient-dense. Yet, there is scientific evidence that organic foods contain more antioxidants and could reduce the risk of cancer and people are all about it.

Sales of organic food and produce have been climbing in the last few years. In 2019, there was a total of $55.1 billion worth of organic food sold — a 4.6% increase from the previous year. When the coronavirus pandemic started, people began to buy the healthier option more. Sales were up 50% in March. An Organic Trade Association poll found that 90% of those who answered said they buy organic produce now because of the virus.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a health and food writer and a certified yoga instructor. Read more