Consumers purchasing organic products should be able to feel confident that the ingredients are in fact organic. Misleading, false or deceptive organic claims are against the law.
An organic claim is any claim that describes a product as organic, or the ingredients used to make a product as organic. For example ‘100% organic’, ‘made using organic ingredients’ or ‘certified organic’.
Products labelled as organic generally attract a premium price compared to those produced using artificial fertiliser, chemicals or pesticides and non-essential food additives or processing aids.
Organic certification is not legally required for a product supplied in Australia to be described as organic. However, businesses that make any organic claims must be able to substantiate those claims.
Organic products intended for the Australian market are not required to be certified in order to be labelled ‘organic’.
However, there is a voluntary standard for growers and manufacturers wishing to label products as ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ for sale within Australia (AS 6000–2015). As it is a voluntary standard, businesses do not necessarily have to meet the requirements of this standard in order to label and sell their products as ‘organic’ within Australia.
Businesses may also choose to become certified by an organic certification body, which base their certification standards on the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce. This standard is owned by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and is mandatory for Australian organic products intended for export.
All organic claims, whether they reference a standard or not, should be able to be substantiated. If a business claims to meet a particular standard, it must ensure that this claim is true.
Many products carry a symbol, logo or other trade mark to show that they are certified organic. This certification is provided by various private bodies and the minimum standards required to get certification may vary.
A business that labels its product as certified organic must ensure that its product is actually certified.
- Read labels carefully to see which ingredients in the product are organic.
- Ask the business about any certification used and do some research if you are unfamiliar with it.
- If no certification is used, ask the business to explain how its processes ensure its product is organic.