Not All Those Fancy Labels on Your Groceries Are Created Equal. A New Resource Identifies the Good and the Bad Apples

Grocey store Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Grocey store Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
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Washington, D.C.—November 9, 2017— With Thanksgiving and the holiday season around the corner, Green America released a valuable guide for consumers navigating the cornucopia of vague and often confusing food labels. “The ABCs of Food Labeling” is a guide to help consumers understand which labels certify food that was produced with adherence to a set of verifiable criteria, and which labels are just cheap marketing ploys. As it turns out, many of the labels and certifications mean a lot less than you think!


The new guide covers labels for animal welfare, environmental and health concerns, labor conditions, and the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The guide rates each label with one through five stars, and evaluates impacts on environment and human health, whether the label represents a clearly defined legal or regulatory standard and whether the standards set forth by the label are subjected to third-party certification or audit.


“Purchasing foods with meaningful labels is a critical way to support socially and environmentally responsible food production,” said Anna Meyer, the food campaigns director at Green America. “Autumn is a season of great eating and great cooking! Keep a printed copy of the ABCs of Food Labeling with your reusable grocery bags or access the list from your phone.”


The guide also offers helpful tips and interesting facts, including:


  • Organic is always Non-GMO: When a food is labeled USDA organic, that means it cannot be produced using genetic engineering (GE) or ingredients derived from GE crops. Shop carefully when buying corn, soy alfalfa, sugar, canola, cotton, papaya, zucchini, and summer squash, as well as animal products, which most often come from animals that have been fed GE crops.
  • Want humane food? Meet the humans producing it: One of the best ways to know what animal stewardship practices were involved in producing your food is to meet your farmer! Buying meat, dairy, and eggs at your local farmer’s market, or through a CSA, allows you to have a conversation with the farmers that produce your food. Ask them questions about humane practices and support local, ethical farms.
  • Shop smart: Access other resources while you’re at the store. Animal Welfare Alliance has an app that exposes whether animal product labels are trustworthy. Label Lookup and Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide are apps that serve a similar function for packaged goods. The app Locavore helps you find farmers markets and locally produced food near you.


“The ABCs of Food Labeling” is available for free download at



Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.


MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or