Removing the Logo: Why our meat currently isn’t Certified Organic at Point of Sale
Worldwide, the organics industry is booming.
In Australia, there is 15% growth reported year on year. More Aussies than ever have purchased at least one certified organic product in the past year.
It’s reasonable to expect this strong trend will continue well into the future.
After all, products labelled ‘organic’ seem to offer a win-win scenario: attractive premiums for sellers, and the recognisable logo brings comfort to consumers.
But what place, if any, is there for the numerous products that are surfacing that don’t carry a certified organic logo from one of the seven registered bodies?
And how can you verify is a product labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘organically- grown’ is what it claims?
This is a fairly complex issue. So firstly, let’s look at what it takes for meat to be allowed to display the certified organic logo.
What are the regulations surrounding Certified Organic Meat?
Here is a quick summary of what livestock producers must ensure for their meat to be considered for organic status:
- Animals must be born and remain on certified organic farmland for their entire lives. Detailed property managements records must be kept showing all stock movements.
- Animals must be allowed to practise their normal behaviours, to reproduce naturally and without interference to normal growth patterns. Farmland should not be over-stocked.
- Animals must have access to 100% certified organic feed that offers balanced nutrition. Feed must not be treated with artificial hormones, synthetic chemicals or GMO treated. For ruminants, feed must not be from animal by-products. In cases of feed shortages, animals are allowed no more than 5% of the total feed intake from non-organic sources.
- Animal health and welfare is paramount. All livestock must be allowed to be roam freely, and have access to adequate shelter, water and protection from the elements and predators. Any diseases or pathogens must be treated with natural substances wherever possible. Handling must be done calmly and gently.
- Animals must be transported by carriers that have been properly cleaned down, and separated from non-organic livestock by being loaded at the front of the trailer to prevent possible contamination.
Slaughtering and Processing
- Organic meats must be slaughtered at a certified organic abattoir and all resulting meat products must not contain synthetic colours, flavours, preservatives etc.
- Organic meats must be processed by a certified organic butcher, where all cleaning agents must be rinsed from facility surfaces before use, and boning rooms are limited to processing of organic animals for the entire duration of the session (non concurrently with non-organic runs). All organic meats and offal must be stored separately in a clearly labelled area.
- Any meat products (ie. sausages or patties) must contain 95 percent or more organic ingredients.
How are these regulations monitored?
An annual on-site audit is conducted by an organic inspector. This inspection includes:
- An inspection of the livestock, feed sources and all associated facilities
- The organic management plan is analysed
- Checkpoints all along the production chain are reviewed to ensure they are sustainable, ethical, environmentally friendly and weren’t genetically modified or burdened with pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.
- If necessary, areas of concern are highlighted, and a future plan discussed.
The importance of Certified Organic products
Australians are, per capita, the world’s 16th highest spenders on organic products. Moreover, demand for organic red meat demand rises 6 per cent annually.
It’s clear that organic products aren’t just a ‘passing fad’.
Here are Border Park Organics we produce Certified Organic grain, beef, sheep and wool. The farm became certified organic in 1996 and continues to be certified organic with NASAA.
Although we have had to remove the certified organic logo from our meat (due to our butcher not being certified as per #7 above), nothing about our livestock production, slaughtering, processing or ingredients has changed.
We remain committed to working with the organic industry as we believe it encourages best farm practice and sustainability, and the resulting organic foods lead to improved consumer health.
Border Park and all grain and wool produced continues to be certified organic through NASAA (and beef and sheep meat produced under certified organic regulations), and look forward to the day when we can again return the logo to our meat products.
In the meantime, we thank you for your continued support.
Is the Certified Organic logo really that important?
We were really surprised to discover that a 2012 study found nearly 66% of Australians don’t look for a certified label. Instead, many people buy on good faith.
However, if the label states ‘organic’, with no reference to a certification scheme, you are relying upon the producer or manufacturer’s honesty.
We believe consumers deserve to have the guess-work taken out of buying. This is one reason why we value the presence of a Certified Organic logo so highly.
With an explosion of manufacturer-created logos and marketing terms that don’t have regulatory oversight, it’s difficult for customers to tell the difference or test the claims.
“Customers can have a degree of confidence that the label ‘certified organic’ has substance to it. It’s not completely subjective, being supported by third-party rules and regulations.” Lyn Austin, previous secretary of NASAA.
Should I consider purchasing products that aren’t Certified Organic?
If you’re like most people, you buy organic food for health and environmental reasons.
This is where accurate labelling is key. If there isn’t a certified organic logo displayed and you want to know if the product you’re purchasing is truly organic, ask some questions of the producer.
As Mark Anderson, CEO of NASAA, encourages ” Consumers should always take a moment to check how the ‘organic’ claim is substantiated”.
One of the most important questions we think that deserves to be asked of any producer that sells non-certified products is “why have you chosen not be certified” or “what is preventing you from becoming certified”.
You may be surprised with the answer. It could be a matter that is out of their control (as in our case where our butcher is not certified organic), or there could be many reasons why that producer would not satisfy the organic regulations.
If you’re confident with the answers you receive, and with the reasons the producers may have chosen not to become certified organic, then go for it.
“For this reason, integrity among organic growers and producers is so important and why it’s incumbent upon you as a consumer to get to know not just your labels but the people from whom you purchase your wares”. Jennifer Chait, The Balance.
Why have we removed the logo from our meat at point of sale?
Those selling meat who wish to display the Certified Organic logo must qualify in many different areas.
If just one of these sections can’t be satisfied, then the logo must be removed.
In our case, we’re using a new butcher who is closer to our customers, and because he isn’t certified, we are no longer permitted to sell our meat as certified organic at point of sale. (See here for a detailed explanation)
Why are we bothering to tell you about this change?
We value each of our our customers and subscribers, and consider you as friends. And friends keep things real and speak the truth.
We’re called to be people of integrity (and this is the way we strive to operate our business too).
It’s important that you’re aware of any changes (big or small), and that we’re complying with the standards that regulate the organic industry in Australia.
If you’ve got any questions at all, please get in touch.
What’s the Take Home?
We believe it’s key to display integrity and develop trust with our consumers.
While our meat can no longer be labelled as ‘certified organic’ at point of sale, we anticipate that this is just a temporary measure in order to continue supplying customers.
You can rest assured that our livestock production, slaughtering and processing methods have not changed. We remain commited to providing you with ethically and sustainably grown meat.