March 14, 2019 7:13 am Leave your thoughts
Naturally Good Food is your online organic expert! We sell hundreds of own-brand and branded organic products, including food, household goods and toiletries. We’re always on the look-out for organic products to fill the few gaps we have, believing that organic is best for nutrition, best for taste and best for the environment.
But how can you be sure that the things we sell are definitely organic? The answer lies on the label. If it says it’s organic there, it really, truly is. Here’s why.
In the EU, ‘organic’ is a clearly defined and measurable term. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority explains:
‘‘Organic’ has a specific meaning in the food industry and marketers should not claim that food is “organic” or is “made with organic ingredients” unless it comes from farmers, processors or importers who: follow the minimum standards set down in Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007; are registered with an approved certification body; and are subject to regular inspections. They also need to ensure that they hold robust evidence to substantiate this.’
The UK government expands on this:
‘If you’re a retailer, you can label products ‘organic’ as long as:
- at least 95% of the farm-grown ingredients are organic
- you sell direct to customers in your shop
You must be certified by one of the organic control bodies if you produce or prepare organic food and you want to sell or label it as organic.
You can decide which body to register with based on your location and needs.
Once registered you’ll have to:
- follow a strict set of guidelines laid down by national and international law
- keep thorough and accurate records of production processes
- allow annual and random inspections
You’ll also have to follow the rules for labelling organic products.’
Naturally Good Food is properly registered
Naturally Good Food fits the bill: we only sell food that’s certified by an organic control body. The own-brand stuff we pack ourselves is packed under a licence from one of those control bodies.
The body we’re registered with is the Soil Association (the leading certification body in the UK). We’re inspected annually by them (it’s fairly scary), when we have to account for every single organic lentil, seed, nut and grain that passes through our building. The idea is that all organic food is fully traceable from ‘farm to fork’ – nothing slips through the net.
The Soil Association is clear about what we’re allowed to pack and in what sizes. We can’t just decide to pack a brand-new product, or pack an existing product in a completely different size, without applying for permission. The rules are strict – and therefore they’re respected. They’re equally strict at the processing facilities and on the farms themselves. Organic food – and organic production – must meet a whole array of standards, which include respect for the environment, high animal welfare standards, avoidance of harmful pesticides and fertilisers, and proof that no genetically modified (GM) material or artificial additives have found their way into the product.
The products we stock from around the world comply with the various regimes in those countries. If you want organic products from a particular area of the world, get in touch: we can let you know where each of our products comes from.
It’s organic – but what else?
What else can we say about our organic food? Here’s the ASA again:
‘If your ‘organic’ claims are all in order, this doesn’t mean you have free rein to make any claims you want about organic production, farming, environmental impact or animal welfare.’
Organic producers must still comply with the overall law, as discussed in our previous blog: Labelling: honest and truthful?[LINK] Any claims made must be provable, with no ‘false or deceptive messages’.
In particular, organic producers need to take care when making comparisons.
‘it would not be acceptable to state or imply that organic foods are generally healthier than non-organic foods and comparative claims about the nutrients they contain are subject to certain restrictions.’
It’s generally fine to make ‘subjective’ claims – to say, for instance, that a product is ‘tasty’. However, you can’t say that a product ‘tastes better’ than a non-organic equivalent unless you’ve got some robust taste-testing results to back it all up.
It’s this that makes the strictness of the Soil Association rules and inspections so important. If you believe that organic matters, then a simple label showing compliance with the Soil Association regime actually says all that you want to say. You don’t need to make claims about health, nutrition, taste or environmental matters on the label – the Soil Association logo effectively does all that for you.
Beware of ‘natural’
There’s one last important point to make. ‘Organic’ as a term is clearly defined and robustly defended – but the same isn’t quite true of the word ‘natural’.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency gives a definition of ‘natural’: ‘single foods, of a traditional nature, to which nothing has been added and which have been subjected only to such processing as to render them suitable for human consumption’.
But ‘natural’ doesn’t mean ‘organic’ or ‘environmentally friendly’. And it’s not quite so rigorously tested. Indeed, as The Guardian says in an interesting article on the subject, it’s used mainly ‘to imbue a product with a vaguely positive attribute in the hopes that consumers will buy it.’
So don’t be fooled by pictures of sunshine and green fields, or by vague words like ‘clean’, ‘traditional’ or ‘natural’, unless they’re backed up by strong evidence. If you want food that meets the standards set by the organic certifying bodies, then you need to buy organic. In this country, thanks to our strict guidelines, you can be absolutely sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
This blog is the last in our series on labelling. We’ve also looked at the rules for ingredients and nutritional data, for gluten-free labelling, for allergens and for marketing purposes. We want to make sure that our customers understand what they’re reading, what they’re buying and what they’re eating! See our related blogs here.
How do you read a label? Ingredients and nutrition[LINK]
Labelling: a matter of life and death[LINK]
Labelling: honest and truthful? [LINK]Advertising Standards Authority, Food Standards Agency, labelling law, labels, natural, Organic, organic control bodies, Organic food, organic household, organic rules UK, organic toiletries, soil association, Soil Association logo
This post was written by Yzanne