What is Certified Organic?
Unfortunately the term ‘organic’ is not currently regulated under Australian law, meaning that anyone growing produce or making a product can claim organic as long as they’re using natural methods or using at least one natural ingredient. This is why it is important for you to always look for ‘certified organic’ and a trusted certification logo, like our Bud logo.
To be certified organic means to grow or manufacture a product free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. Livestock must be free to range and pasture-fed, seed must be non-GM, and the process must be water efficient and biodiversity friendly. Producers, processors, manufacturers and retailers of food, drink, fibre, skincare and cosmetics can be certified organic.
What’s the difference between something labelled ‘organic’ and something that is certified organic?
When consumers choose a product that carries a certification logo like the Australian Organic (AOL) Bud logo they are protected by consumer laws. AOL’s trusted certification partners routinely and randomly audits and tests businesses and products that use our Bud logo. AOL’s Bud logo is an Australian Government approved certification logo. Products wearing the Bud logo must follow the requirements and regulations set out in the certification rules.
How do I know if something is truly certified organic?
By looking for a certification logo on a product you can trust that the product is certified. This tick of approval means the product has been put through a rigorous process of certification and has met all of the requirements. Be aware of imitations – there are plenty of products in the cosmetic and skincare industry that are marketed as organic but their ingredients wouldn’t pass the Certification Rules.
Where can I buy organic produce?
Major retailers like Coles, Woolworths and Aldi stock a wide range of certified organic products, from fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy, to canned vegetables, grocery and feminine hygiene items. These major retailers also have their own lines of certified organic products. Your local health food store will also carry a wide range. Just check for a trusted certification mark.
Some local farmers’ markets also provide a range of certified organic fresh produce. If you are unsure if something is truly organic, always ask!
How can I start to incorporate organics into my life?
Most people start by buying certified organic fresh fruit and vegetables. If you can’t source all your fresh fruit and vegetables organically at least choose certified organic fruit and vegetables that you eat the skin of such as strawberries, apples and potatoes, that way you avoid harmful chemical residues.
What is the difference between Australian Organic and a certifier like ACO Certification or NASAA?
Australian Organic Limited (AOL) is the leading organic industry body representing certifiers and certified operators. AOL is a not for profit member-based organisation that advocates for the betterment growth interests of the certified organic industry by lobbying government and driving awareness. Established in 1987 and formerly Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA), AOL has been the major force in ensuring organic standards remain robust and are in line with global export markets.
AOL owns its own private organic standard, called the Australian Certified Organic Standard, as does NASAA. AOL licences certification bodies to use the ACOS and Bud logo as part of their certification services.
Licensed certification bodies ensure their organic operators are adhering to the Certification Rules and relevant Standards. All Department of Agriculture approved organic certification bodies ensure compliance with the relevant standards which allows trace back of all products to their origin.
Do organic standards apply to produce once it has left the farm gate?
Absolutely. Considering livestock, raising organic meat is far more than just making sure animals are free ranging and grass fed, it’s equally about producing cattle without synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics, breeding using natural methods, stress free weaning that allows for the ethological needs of mothers and young, access at all times to unfiltered sunlight and not using electric prodders as a routine management method.
For a meat product to be certified organic it must be processed at a certified organic abattoir which keeps cattle in their social groups, provides comfortable holding pens with feed, water and bedding, doesn’t kill animals in the line of sight of other animals and renders animals unconscious before they’re killed. Live export is not permitted under the Australian Certified Organic Standard.
Processing and manufacturing sites producing certified organic products are not permitted to use harmful cleaning chemicals and conventional produce must be segregated from certified organic produce.
What stocking rates apply to egg farms?
To use the Australian Organic Bud logo, egg farmers can’t stock more than 1500 birds per hectare if they are set stocking or up to 2500 birds per hectare for layers on pasture rotations. These are equal to the strictest interpretations of any of the varying free-range standards available.
Don’t forget that when you’re buying certified organic you’re also buying eggs that are produced without artificial colour additives, antibiotics and synthetic agrichemicals.
What does in-conversion mean?
In-conversion is the period of time a farmer goes through before they can be fully certified organic. It’s like training wheels – it’s a period of time where they’re transitioning to certified organic. During the in-conversion period they must adhere 100% to the Australian Certified Organic Standard.
In-conversion farmers cannot use prohibited chemicals and other inputs, they must be free to range animals on natural pasture, not using antibiotics or hormones and adhere to the strict animal welfare guidelines as required by the Standard. They are also audited every year and products that are in-conversion are sold with a stippled Australian Organic logo.
I purchased a product from a supermarket recently and it has the Bud logo on the product, but the product is imported from China. How can it have the Bud logo on the product?
The Bud logo verifies the organic status of the product and not the country of origin. Certifying bodies ensure that the product is produced and certified to an organic standard recognised in Australia, and will certify imported products only if they are already certified to a major, recognised or compatible Standard. Based on this it can be assumed that the product has been grown/ handled similarly to how a product is handled in Australia. Certifying bodies verify this by randomly testing imported products for common contaminants such as pesticides/ insecticides and synthetic compounds.
You can tell the difference between the labels by the wording. When it says “Australian Certified Organic” on the label, this means the product was produced and/or grown in Australia. A product displaying the Bud logo without the word Australia may be either made or produced in Australia or overseas.
It is worth noting that some companies may have a product that is produced and/or grown in Australia, but do not choose to label this product with the ‘Australian Certified Organic’ label. This may be because when a product or ingredient is in short supply, it may need to be sourced from overseas – yet it will still adhere to the same certified organic standards. However, some companies may simply choose to use this label as it is easier to display the same label across multiple certified organic products in their range.
The Australian Government Country of Origin labelling requirements will also appear on the labels and denote the product origins, so businesses still display the same transparency and traceability for their products and ingredients.
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