Pet Health & Safety

What it Means to be Organic

2 Comments 28 June 2010

What it Means to be Organic

As pet parents, we’re all looking for that “perfect” diet for our dog or cat that will help them live a longer, healthier, happier life. Today, the choices are truly overwhelming. Hundreds of formulas fill the stores calling out features that, as recently as just a few years ago, weren’t available or even considered for dogs and cats. It can be overwhelming to try to make sense of what you see on the shelf. To add to the confusion, there are many websites, blog posts, and even published books that contain incorrect information on pet food ingredients and labeling.

One term that frequently gets misinterpreted is “organic”. Organic can be confusing because it’s often used interchangeably with the term “natural”. But, they are so, so, so different! At the most basic level, think of organic as “natural-plus” – if an ingredient or product is certified organic, it is, by definition, natural. But, if a product or ingredient is natural, it is not necessarily organic.

Then there are the regulatory differences that give organic real teeth. The “teeth” in organic is the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). Extremely rigorous, strictly defined and highly enforced, the NOP was established to set the uniform rules for the production, handling and labeling of organic ingredients and foods. This independent third party review and approval process is not part of ingredients and foods that are labeled “natural”; it is unique to being certified organic. Big difference.

From the farm and field through to the production of organic ingredients and foods, each and every step is regulated by the NOP. The mandate for organic certification and adherence to the NOP rests with organic certifying agencies such as Oregon Tilth and OCIA. They are also responsible for periodic inspections along with unannounced visits to organic growers and producers.

To give you an idea of the depth and breadth of this program, here are a few examples of what goes into being certified organic using Organix® as an example:

  • To obtain organic certification for Organix, each and every ingredient must be reviewed and approved by the organic certifying agency for inclusion in our formulas, whether that ingredient is organic or not.
  • Prior to Organix production, the line must shut down for up to 24 hours for the required clean out regimen that must also be fully documented.
  • The organic, free range chicken in Organix must be raised in accordance with the NOP which includes being fed an organic diet, access to the outdoors, and humane treatment.
  • Our organic ingredients are produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and no added growth hormones.

For more on the very rigorous requirements of the USDA’s NOP, visit or

If you have any questions about any of our products, or about something you’ve read pertaining to pet food ingredients and labeling, please leave a comment on our blog, or send us an email at It’s disappointing and frustrating to see published materials and information on the web that is incorrect leading to even more confusion. We’ll do our very, very best to make sure we clarify things for you!


- who has written 15 posts on Castor & Pollux Pet Works Blog.

Shelley Gunton is co-founder and “Top Dog” of Castor & Pollux Pet Works. Shelley and husband Brian’s passion for bringing the best possible products to dogs and cats started with their own dog, Joey, back in 1985 when they couldn’t find any quality food for him after being transferred to Hong Kong. So began their journey into the world of pet food that eventually lead to the launching of their own line of natural and organic dog and cat products in 1999 – Castor & Pollux Pet Works.

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