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Consumer Reports: 84% of US consumers buy food with organic seal, but some are confused about its meaning

By Elaine WATSON , 07-May-2014
Last updated on 07-May-2014 at 16:29 GMT

Consumer Reports: 84% of US consumers buy food with organic seal, but some are confused about its meaning

84% of US consumers buy organic food sometimes, and 45% of them buy it at least once a month, according to a new national survey of 1,016 adults. However, there is a disparity between what they think the organic seal means and what they think it should mean.

For example, the survey - conducted in March 2014 by Opinion Research Corporation for Consumer Reports - found that less than half of consumers believed the USDA organic seal on poultry meat or eggs meant that the chickens had a minimum amount of living space, or went outdoors (although both are requirements of the National Organic Program).

When asked if the organic label should mean that chickens had more space and got to go outdoors, more than two thirds said yes.

And while a large majority (81%) of consumers thought that the organic seal on fruits and vegetables meant that “no toxic pesticides” were used [more accurately it means that any fertilizers and pesticides used must be from an approved list in the National Organic Program ], a higher percentage (91%) thought it should mean "no toxic pesticides".

Meanwhile, if organic produce is from a different country, most respondents (84%) said labels should reflect this.

As to what origin labels should look like, two thirds (66%) favored a label that reflected where the produce was grown and processed (‘Grown in Mexico, processed in the USA’); 18% thought that the appropriate label in this instance was ‘Product of Mexico’; 13% thought ‘Product of the USA’; and 3% were unsure or had no strong view.

Click HERE for the complete survey results.

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