Understanding Labels

What Makes a Good Label?

Labels on food help you make informed decisions when you shop. Understanding which labels are meaningful and which ones aren't is critical.

Generally, the best labels are seals or logos indicating that an independent organization has verified that the producer met a set of meaningful and consistent standards for environmental stewardship, animal welfare and/or social justice.

When you understand labels, you can vote with your food dollars for a safer, more humane, more just and more sustainable food system.

Rating labels

Criteria We Use to Evaluate Labels

When we evaluate and rate labels, we use the following criteria:


Labels should be backed by a set of meaningful standards. The standards should have requirements that go beyond the industry norm or basic legal requirements. These standards should be verifiable by the certifying group or another independent inspection organization.

A label used on one product should have the same meaning if it used on other products. Standards should be verifiable in a consistent manner for different products.

The organization behind a label should make information about its organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public.

Certifying organizations and their employees should not have any ties to, and should not receive any funding, sales fees, or contributions, from logo users except fees for certification. Employees of companies whose products are certified, or who are applying for certification, should not be affiliated in any way with the certifier.

All standards should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders including consumers, industry, environmentalists and social representatives in a way that doesn't compromise the independence of the certifier. Industry representatives, for example, can play an important advisory role without having direct financial, decision making or management ties to the certifier.