I don’t know about you but when I go shopping and I see the word ‘organic’ I expect a certain criteria will be filled. I expect that product to be whole, animal cruelty free, as close to natural as possible and chemical-free. I expect those words to give me the confidence to buy the product and know that I can trust its source, its manufacturing processes and the company.
I personally have a chemical-free skincare company and I am trying to get organic certification for the same reasons. I want my customers to know that I have done the best I can to get the highest grade and the most natural and organic ingredients possible and that they actually work on a par with or better than their chemical counterparts. My manufacturer feels the same, I trust my manufacturer’s with all my heart. They have the same morals and ethics and they know how important the words organic, natural and chemical-free mean.
‘There is so much about Organic Skincare that people don’t know. There is no one official defined term for ‘organic’ worldwide. Generally speaking though it means certain standards have been applied during growth, particularly to fertilization and pest control.
In the USA, Organic products have been produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, human sewage or synthetic fertilisers, and cannot be genetically modified or radiated. Additionally, organic poultry, dairy, meat and eggs are produced without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics.
What are the national/international standards are for organic?
Australia has had national standards for organic and biodynamic products in place since 1992. This is primarily for exporting organically produced goods out of the country.
Australia does not have a mandated regulatory system for organic products. Despite repeated requests from the industry, successive Australian governments have refused to do this due a reluctance to have mandatory systems unless there is a proven failure of the existing regulatory systems.
For the EU new standards from 2009. (EC) 834/2007 covers farmers in Europe and importing countries. 71 countries have implemented these regulations, 21 are in the process of regulation changes.
USA Standards are:
• Only one official seal can be used. Misuse leads to potential fines.
• 100 percent organic – every ingredient (except water and salt) must be organic.
• Organic – 95 percent of the ingredients must be organic.
• Made with organic ingredients – 70 percent of the ingredients must be organic.
Are there many organic certification boards or just one main one?
Australia – There are 7 private certifying bodies that base their standards on the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce. The organic Federation of Australia is the peak body for the organic industry in Australia. http://www.ofa.org.au/
1. NASAA – http://www.nasaa.com.au/
2. Organic Food Chain – http://www.organicfoodchain.com.au/
3. Aus-Qual – http://www.ausqual.com.au/
4. Australian Certified Organic – http://www.aco.net.au/
5. Demeter – http://www.demeter.org.au/ –
6. Safe Food Queensland – http://www.safefood.qld.gov.au/index.php
7. TOP – http://www.tasorganicdynamic.com.au/
USA – the USDA is the only certifying body. It is government regulated.
There are hundreds of others around the world but it is the seal that will indicate who the certifier is.
What about in skincare is it the same? What does organic mean in the beauty and food industries? Is it different?
Generally speaking it is the same because it is more about the ingredients rather than the product itself.
Australia – Many of the certifying bodies apply the same standards to food and cosmetics. They will display their label. Only the ones listed above use any kind of standards (although they may differ). As for the rest, it is a guessing game.
USA – the same organic seal is used in both food and skincare.
Is the FDA (Food & Drugs Association) involved in what organic means?
No, in the USA – National organic program is run by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and is in charge of the legal definition, labeling, and certification (US Government Printing Office, 2014).
How would a company get organic certification?
It costs money, often a lot, and may involve quite a bit of paperwork and regular inspections.
In Australia you can apply to any of the above certifiers. In the USA – you must apply through the USDA.
Is it possible to get organic certification if not all ingredients are organic?
Yes , it appears there is different levels of regulation in the USA. It would depend on each of the hundreds of various certifiers as to their own rules and regulations.
Do organic foods have more nutrients?
There are health benefits due to reduced exposure to synthetic compounds that can be very toxic but there is conflicting evidence regarding whether organic foods have more nutrients or not. So many things impact the nutrients of food – growing conditions, soil, time of year, time in storage, transport, handling, cooking methods etc. I think the feeling around organic is a much bigger picture than just nutrients. And quite frankly given the damage the pesticides and herbicides are now having on food and therefore our microbiome and digestive systems I would be investing in organic where possible.
What is the positive Impact of organic on the environment?
• Organically enriched soil holds more water, allowing for growth during dry periods.
• Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers account for 40 percent of the energy use in US agriculture. Increased organic farming will reduce this energy usage.
• Changing from synthetic to organic farming methods can remove 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air per acre, per year.
• Organic farming reduces nitrogen pollution.
• Synthetic fertiliser run-off into the waterways of the Gulf of Mexico causes hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) to thousands of fish and shellfish. It also contributes to the growth of toxic algae.
• A commonly used synthetic herbicide called Atrazine causes growth abnormalities in frogs (healthy frogs indicates a healthy environment and vice versa) and negative effects on oceanic phytoplankton, the base of the aquatic food chain.
• DDT, a toxic synthetic pesticide that has been banned for 30 years in some countries, is still causing damage to birds. What will the impact be of the chemicals being used today?
What does organic certification or labeling not address?
• Organic does not always mean better for the environment. Food that has to be transported or grown out of season has an impact on the environment as well. You as the consumer have to weigh up the pros and cons of organic versus local.
• Organic does not necessarily mean that animals were raised or treated humanely.
• Organic does not ensure Farm workers are treated fairly.
• Organic does not always mean it is better quality or taste
• Organic does not mean that the product is safe from microbiological contamination.
What does Natural mean?
In short, not much. There is no consistent legal definition for the world natural. It is often used as a marketing term by companies in countries that regulate the word organic, to get around regulation and still attract customers.
A company only needs 5% of ‘natural’ ingredients to call themselves ‘natural’.
I think the word ‘organic’ carries a lot of meaning but from what I have learned it does not necessarily always mean what we think. I think words like natural, chemical-free and naturally sourced also carry weight and meaning. As you can see from above though, these words can be misused and overused. I think it is more important to understand a company’s morals and ethics. What they are willing to do to get the best most important ingredients and manufacturing processes possible. And a case of looking at the big picture and impact. Personally I do always look for the words organic, natural and chemical-free. I then research a company and look at its philosophy. If in my heart it feels right… I am in!
If you are prepared to find these things out then you will feel more assured the products you are buying and indeed what you think they are.
Australian Government – Department of Agriculture and Food. (2013). Organic and Biodynamic Produce. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/food/organic-biodynamic
Kennedy, A. (2011, September 4). Sensible Bites. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.sensiblebite.com/2011/09/environmentally-friendly-eating-eat.html
US Government Printing Office. (2014, April 2). PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=8c19d1d77cb255a5316dfc62b70c3055&node=7:220.127.116.11.32&rgn=div5#7:18.104.22.168.32.7.356.14