Seafood labeled as “organic” is appearing in supermarkets across the country, however, the “organic” label is very misleading. For fish, the term has no real meaning: There are no U.S. governmental organic standards for seafood. These products are often labeled organic based on a private set of company standards, or in accord with European standards. Often, neither of these equate to what consumers in the U.S. expect “organic” to mean.
The National Organic Standards Board, which assists the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the development of organic standards for food, is debating criteria for some seafood. However, it has not yet recommended acceptable practices, in part because of the complexity of fish farming, also called aquaculture, compared to the farming of domesticated livestock. Consumers should be wary of seafood bearing a European Union or independent European organic organization label because, in many cases, the standards there are not as strict as U.S. organic standards for other foods.
The European Union has added aquaculture products to the list of commodities that can be certified organic using standards developed for livestock, and independent organizations in many European countries have already created their own standards. The result is a variety of organic labels that have little meaning.