How to tell if restaurants are really serving organic food

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How to tell if restaurants are serving organic food (Shutterstock)

With the explosion in popularity of organic food, it's no surprise restaurants want a bite of the pie. However, unlike food products that require certification to legally use the organic label, that same standard isn't required of restaurants.

Alexis Baden-Mayer of the Organic Consumers Association says, "There are a lot of restaurants that have organic in their name and advertise themselves as organic that are not certified."

Erica Welton, a co-founder of The Organic Coup, explains, "The way the standards are currently written, there is a very large loophole for restaurants where they can say the word organic, but no one's checking to make sure it actually is organic, or is organic every day of the year."

The USDA explains, "When the original legislation was proposed, restaurants were exempted because the focus was on establishing parameters for producers and handlers."

For some restaurants promoting they are organic, the term may only apply to certain menu items or ingredients.

Others, like The Organic Coup, get special certification from outside associations. They say it's important to be clear to customers.

Dennis Hoover, co-founder of The Organic Coup, explains, "They have trust that everything in our restaurant is 100 percent certified organic, not just one item or 20 percent of the items but everything."

Want to know for sure? Ask.

Consumers can file a complaint on the USDA website if they are concerned that a restaurant or any other company is misrepresenting itself as organic.

Want to know more about organic seals? Check out the explanation from the USDA.
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