‘Certified Organic’ are important words for Australian shoppers wanting to ensure that what they buy meets the highest organic standards.
When you think of organic you might think of words like ‘healthy’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly’. While these are all generally true, organic is more than just buzzwords. It refers to a specific set of standards and practices used to grow plants and raise livestock.
In this blog we’ll take a look at these standards to help you understand what you’re actually buying when you shop organic.
What Does Organic Mean?
Like we mentioned earlier, the term organic can mean a lot of different things depending on who asks. It can be a lifestyle. An ideology. A movement.
While these are all valid, when we talk about organic in relation to food we are explicitly referring to plants and livestock that have been grown, harvested, and processed without the use of pesticides and synthetic chemicals.
Organic and Certified Organic: What’s the Difference?
Currently in Australia, there’s no national or government standard that determines what is considered organic or not. Instead, organic certification is left to a handful of private certifying bodies, which we’ll explore later on.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that just any product can be labeled organic. Under the ACCC brands cannot provide false or misleading claims. This means brands that claim to be organic have to have proof of their organic status. This is regardless of whether they are labeled certified organic or not.
This is where organic certifications come in. Being certified organic is a straightforward way to prove your organic status. Additionally, certified organic products have gone through a process of certification by a third party. This guarantees integrity and transparency, as the requirements for each of these certifications can be easily accessed by consumers.
Organic Certifications in Australia
Since Australia lacks a single regulatory body, Organic certification is handled by six certifying bodies. They are:
- Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
- National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA)
- AUS-QUAL Limited (Aus-Qual)
- Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (Demeter)
- Organic Food Chain (OFC)
- Tasmanian Organic-dynamic Producers (TOP)
All these companies have been approved by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
By far, the largest of these bodies is Australian Certified Organic. As well as being recognised internationally, their certification system includes over 1,500 operators.
ACO is also the most well known of these certifying bodies. It’s easily recognised by the white Australian Certified Organic bud.
What About USDA Certified Organic?
You may have noticed food in your supermarket labeled USDA Certified Organic. This is another common organic certification seen in Australia, although it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. It is roughly equivalent to the organic certifications we have in Australia.
The key take away from this blog is to check for a certification logo before buying any product labeled organic. That way, you can be sure it was produced in line with the highest organic farming principles.
The easiest way to ensure that what you are buying is organic is to buy from an organic store. All the fresh produce we sell at the Back to Eden Outlet is 100% certified organic and Australian grown. Come visit us in Homebush and make sure you sign up to our newsletter for special offers.