The State of California regulates companies that sell farm produce with organic labels on it. These are separate regulations from the United States Department of Agriculture Organic program, although California lawmakers do coordinate their rules with federal regulators. For example, the state California Organic Program mentions both the Organic Foods Production Act, a federal bill, and the state’s Organic Products Act.
Certification is mandatory for any business that sells more than five thousand dollars of organic products each year. The certification process includes farm products such as grains and vegetables as well as farm animals, and applies to businesses that claim the “organic” label even if they don’t state that their product is completely organic. The process requires an inspection from a government worker and businesses that cannot prove they passed the inspection may be fined.
California legislators passed the California Organic Products Act which synchronizes California organic regulations with federal regulations. The law separates federal and state responsibilities, and according to the California Department of Health Services, the federal government now regulates many processed organic foods and the state regulates raw and unprocessed forms. Federal regulators like to use the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to regulate any product which can be sold in other states, so it makes sense that raw products are more likely to be sold within the state and state authorities can handle their sale, and processed products that may be purchased elsewhere in the United States properly fall under federal authority.
The California Organic Products Act requires farms to register with the California Department of Health Services. This includes an annual registration fee, which also covers some of the state’s inspection expenses. According to the State of California, organic pet food is now subject to the same labeling requirements as food intended for humans. Organic cosmetics are also now regulated and the requirement is that they contain 70% or more organic material to use the organic label. That’s the main organic cosmetics requirement, the State doesn’t mention cruelty free products or what is allowable in the other 30% of the content.
The State does provide a general description of organic livestock care. According to Take Charge California, organic feed is a requirement for ranchers who wish to sell organic meat. The livestock should also receive natural treatment such as being able to roam around outside, and not be stuffed with medication. Farm animal medication is a major issue since it can lead to the growth of bacteria that resist antibiotics and other drugs, some of which can get into meat which is improperly processed.
Organic regulations vary according to the amount of organic content claimed, according to the State of California. California regulates solids according to product weight and liquids according to fluid volume, according to the Organic Products Act. Since water and salt may be added without jeopardizing the product’s organic status, it is possible to add water to get a product past the 70 percent threshold, although this will be obvious to consumers if a farm or manufacturer takes this route.