Organic Food and Beverages
Buy Organics: Where and How?
Organic Food Standards -
Organic Foods Certification - Ensuring Organic Integrity
Organic food standards provide information on organic foods certification process, and the minimum standards required to achieve certification. Food sold as organic needs to be certified (for example, if sold as online organic foods, organic food at the market or grocers, or if sold as wholesale organic food to other suppliers).
In the late 1980s, organic food standards became a major issue in reforms in agriculture, planned by the common agricultural policy of the European Union (EU).
It was recognised that surpluses, such as the infamous 'butter mountain', amongst others, could be reduced through organic farming.
These surpluses had of course been created due to the 'produce as much as you can at the least cost' driving force of conventional, intensive farming.
It was also recognised that organic farming would bring agriculture into alignment with environmental conservation.
In order to 'sell' organic foods to consumers, it was necessary to build an accepted standard that asssured us that the promised benefits in food quality and to human and environmental health were deliverable.
Further, we needed to be sure that those benefits be maintained and upheld by holding the producers and processors of it to account.
In short, without a recognizable set of organic food standards, consumers will not buy.
To achieve these organic food certification standards, in 1992, and later in 1999, the EU introduced regulations to:
...ensure the authenticity of organic farming methods, which have evolved into a comprehensive framework for the organic production of crops and livestock and for the labelling, processing and marketing of organic products.
They also govern imports of organic products into the EU. The first regulation on organic farming [Regulation EEC N° 2092/91] was drawn up in 1991 and, since its implementation in 1992, many farms across the EU have converted to organic production methods.
Where farmers wish to claim official recognition of their organic status, the conversion period is a minimum of two years before sowing annual crops and three years in the case of perennials.
In August 1999 rules on production, labelling and inspection of the most relevant animal species (i.e. cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry) were also agreed [Regulation EC N° 1804/1999].
This agreement covers such issues as foodstuffs, disease prevention and veterinary treatments, animal welfare, husbandry practices and the management of manure. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products derived from GMOs are explicitly excluded from organic production methods.
The organic food regulations also include imports of organic agricultural products from third countries whose organic production criteria and control systems have been recognised by the EU as equivalent...
Go to EU website
These legal rules and regulations set the minimum standards to be met in organic food production and processing. In Part 2 we will see how the Soil Association (SA) has developed and continues to develop further and higher standards.
... to see how standards have been set higher by the SA.
And for information on how the United States has handled organic food certification through the United States Department of Agriculture - USDA Organics.
Find out more on EU and UK organic standards regulations documentation:
Organic Food Standards
Standards regulations are being continuously improved and more countries are adopting organic standards. We will update standards as often as possible; if you find new (and improved) standards data, please send us a copy through our Contact Form.
Also, if your region does not have organic food standards, contact your local organic association to see how it can help build organic regulations and standards.