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Food Packaging Certifications – Kosher, Gluten Free, and Organic

Depending on what market and what retailer you are looking to establish your product in, many retailers require specific certifications to be on your packaging.  And, if the label is on your packaging, it is required to be packaged in a facility that is compliant with these specific requirements and certifications.  Below are a few of the important plant certifications that are being used in today’s food packaging world.

Kosher Certified:  Food prepared or packaged in accordance with Jewish dietary laws

A Kosher food that is processed or cooked together with non-kosher food, or any derivative of a non-kosher, becomes non-kosher.  For example, food coloring derived from shellfish and used in a cake makes the cake non-kosher.  Meat and dairy products may not be made or consumed together.  Kosher means the product must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner to be kosher.  Definitions of Kosher have evolved in response to changes in the food industry, due to the growing complexity of food; the need arose for kosher certifying agencies to determine the kosher status of prepared food.

Today kosher certification labels are printed on the packages.  There are different Jewish ethnic cultures, different branches within Judaism and different certifying authorities in the United States that certify kosher.  In recent year’s gentiles (non-Jewish) have become more and more interested in kosher food.  Many people who are health-conscious may purchase something kosher because they believe it is healthier and safer as a result of the extra regulations.

Gluten Free facility:  Facility that packages under a tolerable level of Gluten

Gluten-free means the facility can package under a tolerable level of Gluten which is 20 PPM.  The current international Codex Alimentarius sets the standards for these levels.  Most facilities will package products with gluten in them but as long as the levels are low they can claim Gluten-free.   At this time there are no laws in the United States for labeling foods as Gluten-free.  The reason for this is many of the inherently Gluten free grains, seeds, and flours are contaminated with Gluten.  By eating these you have inadvertently consumed Gluten so there are no set laws on Gluten-free food or facilities.  Gluten causes many problems in many people and the majority of people with celiac disease can safely consume certain oats and seeds that contain Gluten.  Just remember that because it says Gluten-free does not mean there is no evidence of gluten.

Organic Certified:  Producer, packager adopts organic practices

The USDA organic regulations recognize four categories.

  1. Crops- a plant that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock feed, fiber or used as nutrients.
  2. Livestock-Animals that can be used for food, fiber or feed
  3. Processed Products- Items that have been handled and packaged (chopped carrots) or combined processed and packaged.
  4. Wild Crops- Plants from a growing site that is not cultivated.

The handling facility may be certified by a private, foreign or state run organization that is accredited by the USDA.  Certifying agents are responsible for ensuring the USDA organic products meet the standards set forth by the certification.  To learn more about the organic certification you can visit www.1.usa.gov/organic-certification

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