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Navigating Food Labels: Understanding Organic, Non-GMO, and Other Certifications

Food labels help you make informed decisions about grocery purchases in terms of personal health and agricultural practices. While shopping at a health foods store, you'll encounter many terms on labels, and each of them have specific meanings.

Organic Labels

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sets the standards that foods must meet to bear this term when imported, exported, or sold between provinces. British Columbia follows similarly rigorous criteria for foods produced and sold within the province. This is indicated on a label by the BCCOP check mark.

This term means that the production and processing of the food were done without using any items on a list of prohibited synthetic pesticides.

According to the federal government, the Canada organic logo may only appear on products containing 95% or more ingredients that meet the criteria. Foods with ingredients between 70% and 94% of this standard may mention them but cannot portray the logo.


Many products sold in a grocery store in Vancouver proudly state that they are non-GMO. GMO stands for genetically modified organism. This means that the food source has been genetically manipulated for the purpose of withstanding certain pesticide applications, resisting crop diseases, or increasing yields.

For various reasons, many people choose to avoid GMO products and shop at a health foods store.

GMOs are pervasive throughout the food system. The following items in Canada may, but not always, be GMO:

●      Corn

●      Soy

●      Alfalfa

●      Hawaiian papaya

●      Sugar beet

●      Summer squash

●      Aquabounty salmon

●      Arctic apples

●      Innate potato

A non-GMO label means that no GMO foods are in the product. If you see the IGEN(TM) label, it indicates that the International Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Evaluation and Notification Program has confirmed the absence of GMOs.


According to the CFIA, natural only means that the product has been minimally processed and does not contain added vitamins, food additives, or food colouring.

Gluten Free

Gluten describes a class of proteins that occur naturally in wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten free label is important to people with Celiac disease due to their inability to digest it. Unless you have this condition, gluten free does not indicate any special health benefits.

Healthy Shopping at Famous Foods

This information about food labels will help you fully understand your options when shopping at our grocery store in Vancouver. Visit our full-service grocery store today.

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