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Nonprofit Groups Launch ‘Little Labels, Big Impact’ Campaign

Fairtrade America, MSC and The Non-GMO Project aim to raise awareness of 3rd-party certification labels
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The third-party certification labels used by Fairtrade America, MSC and The Non-GMO Project represent rigorous standards with requirements that certified companies need to follow to be able to use the mark.

Nonprofit organizations Fairtrade America, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and The Non-GMO Project have teamed to launch the “Little Labels, Big Impact” campaign, with the aim of generating awareness of third-party certification labels on food products that help establish more sustainable and resilient food systems. According to GlobeScan research for MSC, almost 70% of American seafood consumers want retailers’ and brands’ claims about sustainability and the environment to be clearly labeled and third-party verified. 

Little Labels, Big Impact urges U.S. shoppers to look for third-party certification labels when grocery shopping to support products that uphold their values. The campaign, which runs throughout January, highlights the value of third-party certification programs and the importance of market-based solutions in effecting critical environmental and social change in food systems. The research cited above found that about half (49%) of American seafood consumers believe ecolabels on products raise their trust and confidence in the brand.

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Shoppers can look for the Fairtrade Mark on such items as coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas and other produce, and cotton; the MSC blue fish on wild-caught seafood in the canned or pouched fish aisle, on frozen seafood, at the seafood counter, and even pet food and supplements; and the orange Non-GMO butterfly on fresh and packaged foods — particularly those containing corn, soy and sugar derivatives — dairy, meat and eggs, fruit and vegetables, snack foods, vitamins and supplements, vegetable oils, body care products, and more. The three labels each represent rigorous standards with requirements that certified companies need to follow to be able to use the mark. This requires third-party audits and may include laboratory testing and supply chain accountability that allows for “identity preservation,” as well as strict segregation of ingredients or products that are compliant with the standards from ingredients that are not.

“Joining with Fairtrade America and Non-GMO Project is not only a great way to amplify the important work of our certification programs on sustainable food systems. It is an opportunity to encourage consumers to pay attention to the labels on food products they’re buying or already have in their kitchens,” said Nicole Condon, U.S. program director at the London-based MSC. “A lot of dedicated time and effort went into those labels — from the harvesters to the auditors, to the brands themselves — so that shoppers have a clear option to shop their values among products with trusted third-party verification. Looking for these three labels is a great way to start the new year on a positive foot, for both people and the planet.” 

The U.S. chapter of Fairtrade International, Washington, D.C.-based Fairtrade America is the world’s largest and most recognized fair trade system, while The Non-GMO Project, based in Bellingham, Wash., is dedicated to building and protecting a non-GMO food supply. 

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