Organic Valley and Organic Prairie foods go beyond the organic seal
There are many great reasons to pull an Organic Valley product from the shelf and place it in your shopping cart. Not only do we provide taste-bud-tingling, nutritious foods, our farmers care about the environment and the welfare of their animals. If you look beyond the pictures and nutrition labels on all Organic Valley products, you will see the USDA Certified Organic seal. The organic seal guarantees the food you are eating was produced without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs. The United States’ National Organic Program is one of the strictest in the world and is the gold standard when you want food that provides all of the good and none of the bad for your family.
However, Organic Valley goes far beyond USDA Organic standards! Take a look at a package and you may see other logos that indicate guidelines we follow. And it doesn’t stop there! We have several certifications that are not displayed on our packages because we believe following these standards is just the right thing to do, with or without a label.
Let’s see what these certifications and seals stand for.
On Our Packages
USDA Certified Organic
Organic Valley’s organic certificate is 19 pages long! Everything from the farm to the table meets or exceeds USDA Certified Organic standards, and there is documented proof to make sure it stays that way. What makes something organic? Along with the farms, all equipment used to haul, make, and package our products follows these federal rules.
The animals that make their homes on Organic Valley farms have healthy diets, exceptional living conditions, and are free to act as, well, animals. The organic seal also ensures the fruits and vegetables you enjoy are only grown in soil free of prohibited substances, and that the dairy and meat you consume comes from organic animals. Plus, organic is always non-GMO.
Read more: What does certified organic mean?
Certified Grass-fed Organic Dairy
Organic Valley is proud to be pioneers in the grass-fed movement and, thus, collaborated to create the Certified Grass-Fed Organic Dairy seal. There are 180 certified grass-fed farms in our cooperative, and in 2019, they produced 10 million gallons of grass-fed milk. All of our Grassmilk® products carry the certification, though not all don the seal.
Grass-fed farming provides plenty of room for cattle to graze on the organic pastures of our family farms. Livestock must be fed all grass and zero grain, with a minimum of 150 days per year outside on fresh, living pasture. And animal wellness checks are required for all certified grass-fed organic farms.
Here’s more about A Grass-Fed Certification Seal You Can Trust.
Free to Forage™
The Organic Valley Free to Forage™ seal is our way of providing clarity on what free-range means to us. The free-range method of farming, which calls for chickens to spend at least part of the day outdoors, isn’t regulated and can mean different things across different brands. So we created hen-care standards that provide clear direction for Organic Valley egg and poultry farmers.
The Free to Forage™ seal means “access to fresh air, sunshine and organic pasture that is free from toxic pesticides.” We provide habitat hens want: a safe space to scratch in the grass and straw for bugs, dirt areas for dustbathing, access to food and water 24/7, and trees or structures to provide shade and protection from predators.
Read more about what Free to Forage™ means on our poultry and egg farms.
We make food that everybody can enjoy! Organic Valley’s owned facilities and co-processing partners are certified kosher and inspected at least once per year to ensure products are prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Kosher certification is the rabbinic agency stamp of kosher approval verifying products, ingredients, production facilities, tools, and the machinery used have no trace of non-kosher substances. Bulk raw farm milk is inherently kosher and requires no certification until it makes its way to the processing plant.
When you see a label that has “M” inside a crescent moon, the product is halal certified. Halal describes food allowed under Islamic dietary laws. Our milk, dry milk, whey, sour cream, cottage cheese, and cream cheese are halal certified. Organic Valley has used the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Chicago as our halal certifier since 2013, and it named us company of the year in 2017!
Behind the Scenes
Beyond the labels you see on our packaging, we participate in a number of certification programs behind the scenes to ensure you’re receiving the safest, highest-quality products. We work to ensure that our animals are well cared for, and that we’re meeting the certification standards of other countries we sell to around the globe.
Humane Animal Care
Raising animals is vital to who we are, and our farmers—through generations of farming experience—know that healthy, happy animals produce the best quality foods. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
FARM Animal Care Program
Organic Valley is proud to be part of the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) animal care program. Members are U.S. dairy producers, cooperatives, processors, and industry partners dedicated to healthy cows and wholesome milk. The FARM program focuses on excellent cow care, protecting the environment, ensuring safe and exceptional workplaces, and using antibiotics responsibly. The National Milk Producers Federation administers the program.
Global Animal Partnership
Global Animal Partnership (GAP) certification is another way you can be sure animals are afforded healthy and humane lifestyles on Organic Valley and Organic Prairie pork farms. GAP sets standards using a number system signaling to consumers how animals were raised. The higher the number, the more the animal’s environment mimicked a natural environment. A product receives the base label for meeting more than 100 animal welfare standards. The top-tier label (5+) represents products from animals who live their entire lives on a farm.
Whole Foods Market uses this rating system, allowing consumers to make choices based on their preferences. While we do not put the label on our meat packaging, we follow the requirements to meet GAP standards.
Certified Humane Raised and Handled
Coming soon! Organic Valley eggs will be Certified Humane Raised and Handled through Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC)—just one more way you’ll know that our flocks are living the good life. Birds in our cooperative already have higher living standards than the USDA Organic label requires. In addition, Certified Humane allows domesticated birds numerous freedoms. Laying hens in the Certified Humane program are raised under standards developed by more than 40 animal welfare scientists and farm animal veterinarians. We’ll update this article when the certification has gone into effect and the label begins appearing on our packaging.
Good Agricultural Practices
Our produce farmers have on-farm safety plans and they use the Good Agricultural Practices USDA Harmonized Food Safety Standards or a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked third-party standard of their choice. The farmers receive annual audits showing they adhere to the requirements. Farmers also receive an annual Food and Drug Administration inspection to ensure they produce, pack, handle, and store fruits and vegetables safely to minimize risks of food safety hazards.
And that’s not all! Our cooperative’s food safety education program assists new farmers with creating food safety plans, and Organic Valley staff visits our farms to conduct audits. We want to know that our squash, cabbage, kale, cucumbers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beets, potatoes, and rutabagas, are of the highest quality before they find their way to your table.
A little orange butterfly flutters across the Non-GMO Project seal. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated through genetic engineering—in short, GMOs are organisms that could not develop naturally in nature or through traditional seed breeding practices.
The butterfly is the symbol of the nonprofit’s dedication to building and protecting a non-GMO food supply and the belief that everyone has a right to know what is in their food. Organic Valley’s raw farm milk supply is Non-GMO Project verified as well as most of our bulk products for ingredient sales, although we do not use the logo on our packages. But remember, certified organic always means non-GMO!
Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China
We also share healthy, organic products across the globe! Our dairy farms and processing plants are certified to the National Chinese Organic Standards. We take this extra step to accommodate the growing infant/toddler milk powder market in China.
Chinese organic product regulation and certification is governed and supervised by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA). Our cooperative is certified by GRIT Ltd. for many of our dairy powders sold as organic in China. Products from Cashton, Wisconsin, all the way to Auburn, New York, and a number of places in between are certified to China’s national organic standards. We’re proud to make our products available in numerous East Asian countries.
We Certify Because We Care
Organic Valley practices environmental awareness in all facets of our operation, and we respect all human, animal and plant life. We’re a cooperative of farmers who share the same commitment to growing food the right way. We’re not driven by profits; we’re driven by principles.
By knowing a little more about our high standards and additional certifications, we hope this gives you confidence in continuing to reach for Organic Valley products. Thank you for supporting our organic farms!