Buying organically produced food is still a case of buyer beware; you cannot simply trust the word “organic” on a label. In 2009, an Australian Standards code was published, which sets out the basic requirements for growing, producing, distributing, marketing and labelling organic and biodynamic products. While these standards are not legally enforceable, they do provide a framework and minimum standards for the organic industry.
For consumers, it’s the organic certification label that guarantees the product is organic. If something has been certified it carries a logo and certification number. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service recognises six main certifying bodies and if you’re serious about buying organic, it’s worthwhile being familiar with the logos of each.
Australian Certified Organic (ACO) currently certifies about 55% of the Australian organic industry and estimates its logo appears on about 70% of all certified organic products. This includes Coles’ and Woolworths’ own-brand organic foods, which carry the bud-shaped ACO logo.
Imported organic foods are certified in the country of origin, which makes it slightly more difficult to check what you are getting. Look for a certification logo and number and, if in doubt, scan the ingredients list to see how much of the product is made from organic ingredients. The overseas certification bodies whose logos you’re most likely to spot are shown right – USDA Organic from the US, the UK’s Soil Association and Europe’s EU Organic Certification.
The certifying bodies generally do a good job of monitoring the industry and if a food is certified organic you can be confident it is.