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R.A.W. Certification

Certified R.A.W. is an acronym for Real, Alive and Whole. It can only describe plant-based foods, as well as foods that include milk, eggs and honey – if they have been humanely harvested. For a product to use this label on its packaging it must be 100-percent non-GMO and a majority of the ingredients need to be organic. All ingredients must have a high amount of bio-available enzymes – in other words, the body must be able to absorb its nutrients readily. They also need to be minimally processed, or processed below 212 degrees F, to ensure that food is safe, and to preserve as many enzymes as possible. (Raw food proponents believe that higher temperatures can reduce the bioavailability of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.)

Additionally, R.A.W. foods must have a good ANDI score, which stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. It's a method of rating foods based on their nutrient density, or how packed full of nutrients a food is per calorie. In this ranking system, 1,000 is the highest score (kale is up at the top) and 0 is theoretically the lowest, although soda falls at the bottom with a score of 1.

Not everyone agrees with the ANDI method because it's based on calories, not the volume or weight of a food, so a lower-calorie food with more nutrients scores higher than a calorie-dense food, which is why the greens are at the top of the list and other healthy foods including avocado, eggs and yogurt only rank in the 20s to 30s.

Finally, to be eligible for a R.A.W. certification, a food company must have a HACCP – or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point – plan in place. Essentially, this means it meets the global industry standard for keeping food safe to eat, since consumers may worry those “raw” foods could make them sick. Companies must use a third-party certifier, such as Clean Food Certified, to use the R.A.W. label on their products.

Gluten-Free Certification

Gluten-free certification is a process designed to protect consumers with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders by confirming that a food, drink or supplement meets strict standards for gluten-free safety. It assures consumers that there is third-party oversight confirming the legitimacy of the manufacturer’s gluten-free processes and claims.

There are several certifying owners that offer gluten-free certification, and each has its own criteria to ensure safety for consumers.

In the grocery store, certification seals hopefully make it easier to identify safe and trusted products. Products that have been certified gluten-free will typically bear a symbol on the label, so customers with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders can quickly and easily recognize the symbol and know that the product has earned approval.

Non-GMO Certification

The Non-GMO Project Verified mark assures consumers that the product bearing the label has been evaluated for compliance with the Non-GMO Standard, which can be found on the Non-GMO Project’s website. The URL is also included as part of the verification mark so consumers can easily access more information about what the Non-GMO Project Standard encompasses. The verification mark does not state that a product is “GMO Free,” and it does not state that the product is safer, better or healthier. It simply states the product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project Standard.

The Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program is North America’s most rigorous third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. Third-party verification is the highest quality system when it comes to product labeling and an independent party for compliance because it ensures products has comprehensively evaluated certifications. The Non-GMO Project creates the Standard for what it means to be non-GMO, and then independent Technical Administrators evaluate products to determine if they are compliant with the Standard. Independent inspectors and accredited testing laboratories are also part of the Non-GMO Project Verification process, as are ongoing, annual renewal requirements for Non-GMO Project Verified products.

USDA Organic Certified

USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In instances when a grower has to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific purpose, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine its effects on human health and the environment.

Kosher Certification

When your product or establishment is certified kosher, shoppers know that you comply with a strict policy of kosher food laws, including cleanliness, purity and quality.

However, kosher means more than responsible food preparation. Kosher refers to a set of intricate biblical laws that detail the types of food that a Jewish person may eat and the ways in which it may be prepared.

To be certified Kosher, all ingredients in every product—and the process of preparing the product—must be certified for orthodox kosher-compliance too.

Vegan Certification

Distributed and recognized globally, the Certified Vegan Logo is a registered trademark, similar in nature to the kosher mark, for products that do not contain animal products or byproducts and that have not been tested on animals. The certified logo is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists. It also helps companies recognize a growing vegan market, as well as bringing the word Vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream. (Please keep in mind, however, that the logo is not yet on every vegan product.) The Certified Vegan Logo is currently on thousands of products manufactured by over 1000 companies.

The Certified Vegan Logo is administered by the Vegan Awareness Foundation (official name of Vegan Action), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about veganism and assisting vegan-friendly businesses.

Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Certified Vegan products are dairy-free/non-dairy, egg-free, and vegan. However, for those with food allergies please check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Many companies that make vegan products are using shared machinery.

NOTE: The Certified Vegan Logo is permitted on products owned by companies located in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and US territories but is distributed and recognized worldwide.