Labels and their meanings
Each shopping trip brings us face to face with dozens of labels on food and products, from the USDA's organic seal to local sustainability efforts such as the SalmonSafe program, which indicates a producer is a good steward of area waterways.
Here's a sampling of the most common labels you'll encounter at PCC, and the goals and standards behind each.
Certified Organic Retailer — You'll find this seal on the door of all PCC stores. It means that we are providing an extra level of assurance that the integrity of organic products we sell has been maintained from the farm to your shopping cart. Independent, third-party certifiers re-evaluate our stores annually and we maintain detailed records showing that USDA Organic Rules have been followed in our handling, storage and merchandising of organic products.
Fair Trade Certified TM — This label means that TransFairUSA, a member of Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) and the only third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States, has ensured that specific criteria have been met in how a product was produced and traded. Criteria apply to environmental and social conditions where products originate, as well as economic considerations. Certification applies to agricultural products among which coffee, tea and chocolate are the most prevalent.
Gluten-free — In the absence of a set standard, PCC Natural Markets identifies products as gluten-free in our stores and in our product databases based on the information provided by our vendors. PCC refrains from adding orange “gluten-free” shelf tags to products that typically are gluten-free by nature, such as bottled water and most dairy items, even if the packaging is labeled gluten-free. PCC merchandisers are in close contact with both gluten-free organizations and vendors to stay at the forefront of the latest developments.
Kid Picks — PCC Kid Picks is a unique product sampling program that allows kids to taste and discover for themselves that natural and organic foods taste great. All Kid Picks products have been approved by at least two-thirds of their kid "judges," making the Kid Picks label a reliable indicator that kids are likely to enjoy a particular food or product.
Non-GMO Project Verified — This seal identifies products in our stores that follow Best Practices for genetically modified organism (GMO) avoidance according to the nonprofit Non-GMO Project. This third-party verification program was created by leaders representing all sectors of the organic and natural products industry in the U.S. and Canada to offer consumers a consistent non-GMO choice for organic and natural products that are produced without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies. Read even more about the project here.
Local/Northwest Produced — There is no absolutely correct definition of “local” as applied to food products. Common local food sourcing parameters include within 100 miles, within the state and within the region. At PCC, “local” equates to “Northwest,” which is defined as Washington, Oregon and the southwestern part of British Columbia. But for many consumers, especially those for whom life would be unbearable without imported products such as coffee, bananas and chocolate, “local” can mean as close by as possible.
NPA Natural Standard — This seal on a personal care product ensures that all ingredients meet guidelines for "natural" as defined by the Natural Products Association. The NPA Natural Standard encompasses all cosmetic personal care products regulated by the FDA.
In January 2009 we announced that all vendors and manufacturers of personal care products must comply with the Natural Standard's ingredient criteria. PCC shoppers can trust that when they buy these products at PCC, they are truly "natural," whether or not they carry the seal.
Puget Sound Fresh — PCC is committed to supporting local farmers through the Puget Sound Fresh program. By participating in this program — and by featuring fresh, locally grown produce in our stores — we are working to raise awareness of the importance of local, family-owned farms throughout the Puget Sound area.
Salmon-Safe — This label on PCC produce or a bottle of wine means that practices that help keep Northwest rivers healthy enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive were used in creating that product. Farms, vineyards, and even urban locations where streams, wetlands or stormwater runoff are present, can earn Salmon-Safe certification.
USDA Organic — Products that display this label have been certified organic by an agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A product may be either "100 percent organic," meaning it contains only organically produced raw or processed material, or it can be "Organic," which means it contains 95 percent to 100 percent organic ingredients.