The following blog originally appeared on NutriGold’s website. NurtiGold is a Leadership Outreach and Education Sponsor and has over 50 Non-GMO Project Verified products, and we thank them for their continued support of our mission!
Concerned consumers often wonder if the claims on product labels are actually true. They want to buy healthy, environmentally-friendly products and often pay a premium to do so. It is difficult to know what companies you can trust, and hard to tell what you are really getting when you buy. Something an increasing number of companies do to add transparency is use third-party verification, so consumers can buy with confidence.
Third-party verification utilizes an independent organization to review the manufacturing process and to check whether the final product complies with very specific standards. If a manufacturer meets these standards they can certify their products and use the company’s certification mark so the consumer knows they’re buying what’s on the label.
Some of the verification processes include on-site inspections for ongoing compliance. They also may audit company records and trace ingredients from start to finished product. These measures make companies accountable for their practices.
Here are seven third-party verification companies that work with NutriGold, their methods, and their missions.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Some environmentalists believe engineering genetic materials poses many dangers and it could transform aspects of the global ecosystem in negative and unpredictable ways (6).
The Non-GMO Project offers third-party non-GMO verification so consumers can avoid GMO products. Their logo clearly states “Non-GMO Project Verified” alongside a butterfly with a green check mark. Their mission is to “preserve and build sources of non-GMO products, to educate consumers, and provide verified non-GMO choices”.
The Non-GMO Standard identifies high-risk crops and ingredients. To meet the Non-GMO Project Standard, an ingredient derived from a high-risk organism will need test results from the raw source material to prove that it is non-GMO. They also build preservation practices into the supply chain and test materials throughout the manufacturing process to verify extremely low thresholds of GMO contamination.
Non-GMO Project offers a searchable consumer database here to check products.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a very robust verification and certification process. Basically, organic products cannot utilize genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge. They must be free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes too. Operations must also protect natural resources and conserve biodiversity.
Their National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies synthetic substances producers can use and natural substances they cannot use on crops or livestock as well as a small number of non-organic substances suitable for use in or on organic products.
Products with the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal must have at least 95% certified organic ingredients. The remaining 5% of non-organic substances must adhere to their approved list. You may also see “100% organic” or “made with organic” labels. The made with organic label means the product must have at least 70% organic ingredients.
The USDA Organic program also offers a searchable integrity database for certified organic farms or businesses here.
Vegan Action is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about veganism and “to end cruelty to animals by showing the non-vegan food industry that there is a market for vegan products”.
The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose” (4).Products bearing the Vegan action logo do not have animal products or by-products. Consequently, products are also dairy-free/non-dairy and egg-free.
Over 600 companies producing thousands of products verify their products and bear the Certified Vegan logo. Their logo clearly states “Certified Vegan”, “vegan.org”, and has a heart with the letter V in the center. They only certify products made in the US, Canada, and Australia. Consumers can check approved companies on their portal here.
Friend of the Sea is a major seafood certification organization. It follows the Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines of the United Nations (FAO) which provide detailed descriptions of eco-labelling of fish and fishery products, both farmed and wild. Their mission is to provide sustainable seafood.
David Suzuki defines sustainable as “seafood fished or farmed in a manner that can maintain or increase production in the long term, without jeopardizing the health or function of the web of life in our oceans”(5). Friend of the Sea only certifies products if they do not come from overexploited stocks.
Independent verification bodies audit companies to ensure they meet strict criteria. They certify aquaculture sites, whale and dolphin watching operators, and ornamental fish and coral producers.
Their logo is a graphic of a sailboat on waves surrounded by the words “Friend of the Sea”. You can find producers and resellers of their products in their database here.
Fair Trade USA is one of the top third-party certification company in the US. The Fair Trade model promotes rigorous protection of local ecosystems, sustainable agriculture, fair prices and safe conditions for farmers, consumer education, and the elimination of exploitation.
The Fair Trade business model allows industries to compete and prosper, but not at the expense of the workers or environment. By forging long-term partnerships throughout the supply chain companies receive high quality products while supporting disadvantaged communities. Their logo is a graphic of a person holding a bowl and the words “Fair Trade Certified™”.
They also have a searchable database of products and partners here.
The Marine Stewardship Council tackles the problem of unsustainable fishing head on and endeavors to safeguard seafood supplies. They have strict standards which ensure fish populations and their ecosystems remain healthy and productive.
MSC labeled fish has “ocean to plate traceability” to MSC certified fisheries. They test fish and label it correctly so you know you’re getting precisely what the label indicates.
MSC also has a searchable database where you can find retailers and specific products here.
Ko Kosher is a verification and certification company of kosher products. They recognized a need to certify kosher foods early in the 20th century and now supervise plants in North and South America, Europe, and Asia for the nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.
Ko Kosher’s certification process ensures every ingredient and all processes comply with kashrut, Jewish dietary law (3) regarding what a Jew may eat, how it is prepared, and the purity and quality of the ingredients. The company uses a network of supervisors and auditors to ensure cleanliness and purity, and periodic audits to verify ongoing compliance.
Consumers can easily identify Ko Kosher’s kashrut‐compliant products by looking for the certification mark on the label; the letters Ko inside a rectangle.
NutriGold shares your health and environmental concerns and we offer the best possible products to our customers. Our third-party verified kosher, vegan, non-GMO, organic, fair trade, and sustainable seafood products undergo rigorous scrutiny so you can rest assured you’re paying for what you deserve and precisely what is on the label. Why settle for anything less when you can have the best?
- Dahl, Richard. Environmental Health Perspectives 118.6 (2010): A246-252. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898878/. Accessed July 14, 2017.
- Scientific American. Earth Talk. “Are Green Labels Legitimate or Just Greenwashing?” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-green-labels-legitimate-or-just-greenwashing/. Accessed July 14, 2017.
- Judaism 101. Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws. http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm. Accessed July 15, 2017.
- The Vegan Society. “Definition of Veganism”. https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism. Accessed July 15, 2017.
- David Suzuki Foundation. “What is sustainable seafood?” http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/science/sustainable-fisheries-and-aquaculture/what-is-sustainable-seafood/. Accessed July 15, 2017.
- Maghari BM, Ardekani AM. Genetically Modified Foods and Social Concerns. Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology. 2011; 3(3):109-117.