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Organic Food Standards -
Soil Association and USDA Organic


Organic Food Definition and Identification

Organic food standards are similar, yet different. All standards include an organic food definition and organic food labeling rules. The UK Soil Association and USDA organic standards are best-known world-wide (particularly because both the UK and the USA are large organic food marketplaces).

The Soil Association logo is one of the most widely used logos in organic food standards certification, as well as for other organic products.

The organic food industry has been able to evolve with more credibility in large part due to the development of organic standards by the Soil Association, and other associations and organizations around the world (such as USDA organic certification).


The SA promotes and enforces standards based on EU and UK organic food regulations, as well as its own higher standards, developed in pursuit of the highest levels of organic integrity.

soil association organic food standards

The SA, and other organic association and certification bodies, ensures that organic food labeling meets standards set by agreed-upon organic food definition.

(The full SA article from which the following extracts (italics) have been taken are no longer available on the SA site however acknowledgment to Marisa Vaughan as the SA author.)




Organic Poultry

Quality of living standards in terms of space and comfort for laying and meat birds are of paramount importance. The term 'free-range' is not truly met by minimum standards set by legislation. The SA redresses this:


soil association organic food standards




Organic Pork

Under UK law it is still possible for pigs to be fitted with nose-rings, have their teeth clipped and tail docked, as well as castrated. On top of this abuse, the term 'free-range' can mean access only to an outside run. SA standards work to eliminate these stress-producing practices:

soil association organic food standards




Organic Beef and Dairy Cows

organic food standards industry

Often, dairy cows are kept from performing their natural act of grazing. Instead the grass is brought to them in the confines of sheds or small paddocks. While supposedly meeting EU/UK law on minimum organic standards, it fails to meet the quality of those of the SA.

Another concern is the withdrawal period for cows that have been injected with antibiotics. The SA explains:

soil association organic food standards




Organic Crops

The controversial genetically modified (GM) crops or 'frankenfood' as some have dubbed it, come under SA scrutiny in their work of developing ever-higher standards for organically produced foods:

soil association organic food standards




Nature Conservation

Intensive farming disturbs and destroys local environments and eco-systems. The SA sets conservation standards for farmers; meeting these standards promotes environmental/ecological health:

soil association organic food standards




The Soil Association

It is clear to many that the SA is a frontrunner in the campaign to enforce the highest organic standards. These standards naturally benefit environmental health as well as human health.

The SA logo has earned trust and credibility in the organic foods community; more than many others. To-date it has set the highest organic food regulations and only awards its organic food certification logo if those standards are met.

While the pressure of recent poor economic performance world-wide has resulted in consumer concerns about the cost of organic food, it is important to understand that the cost of commercially produced food - while more indirect - is ultimately much higher from an environmental health perspective.




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