Education Resources Facts for students

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1 Facts for students What is certified organic? You ve probably heard the term organic. Certified organic food and products are becoming more common and easy to find, but do you know what it means to say that a product is certified organic? For a product to be certified organic it must be grown or manufactured without the use of nasty synthetic pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones or antibiotics. Animals must be free to roam and be mostly pasture-fed, seeds must be non-gm (not genetically modified), and the growing process must use water efficient methods and be biodiversity friendly. Farmers, processors, manufacturers and retailers of food, drink, clothing, skincare and cosmetics can all have the opportunity to become certified organic. Page 1 of 5

2 How does a product become certified organic? To become certified organic, a strict process must be followed, which can take up to three years, depending on the type of farm or product. During this time the farmer or manufacturer will need to go through several review and audit processes. Once the farmer or manufacturer has applied to become certified organic, their produce or product must continue to be sold as conventional (non-organic) during the pre-certification stage, which lasts until the second audit is completed. After approximately 12 months, another audit is conducted and, if all the rules have been followed, the produce or product can be sold as In-conversion. During this time a modified label can be placed on products and the producer must adhere 100 percent to the Australian Certified Organic Standard. During In-conversion phase, farmers cannot use prohibited chemicals and non-approved farming inputs (materials that are brought onto the farm unit to assist with production). Animals must be free to roam on certified organic pastures in daylight hours and the use of antibiotics or growth hormones is prohibited. Animal welfare guidelines, set by the Standard, must also be followed. After another year (24 months in total), a third audit is required to keep the In-conversion label. After 36 months (three years), the fourth audit is conducted and if successful, the farmer is given full certification and the produce can be sold as certified organic. Annual (yearly) audits are undertaken of the farm, factory and all facilities handling the produce or product to ensure continued compliance with the standards have been carried out. So, you can see that it is quite a process to go through. Page 2 of 5

3 Why choose certified organic? There are lots of great reasons to choose certified organic products. Here s a few of them. 1. Our environment is protected To be certified organic, synthetic agricultural chemicals including pesticides, fungicides and herbicides cannot be used. Certified organic producers use natural options to maintain soil health. This includes companion planting, minimal tillage and crop rotation. Certified organic farmers always consider the impact of their farming on native flora and fauna. By prohibiting the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals, certified organic farming reduces its impact on the surrounding environment by reducing run-off into nearby waterways. Farms must also demonstrate water efficiency, and that catchments, streams and rivers are monitored and protected to ensure sustainability. 2. Animals are treated well Animals must be raised free range to be certified organic. This means no caged chickens and no sow stalls. Animals must be given a quality of life that allows them to perform natural social and physical functions. Additionally, animal numbers are much lower than conventional standards and take into account the condition of the land. Currently, no more than 1500 chickens (birds) per hectare is permitted. Raising certified organic meat is far more than just making sure animals are free range and grass fed. Farmers must also: not use synthetic growth hormones limit the use of vaccines and antibiotics breed using natural methods follow stress-free weaning that supports the needs of the mother and her young provide access to unfiltered sunlight at all times. Live export is also prohibited under organically certified operations. Animal welfare doesn t just stop when the animals leave the farm. The transport of animals must follow strict guidelines and they need to be processed at certified organic abattoirs where they will be treated humanely and with respect. Page 3 of 5

4 3. Certified organic food and products are good for your health Certified organic food is real food made without synthetic colourings, preservatives, additives or genetically modified ingredients which can be linked to some common health conditions. It s not good enough to label a processed product as organic just because the primary ingredient is certified organic. Certified organic food and drink must contain a minimum of 95 per cent certified organic ingredients. Recipe ingredients are assessed to make sure everything that goes into a certified product is organic and safe to consume. 4. Australian jobs are created and supported Choosing to buy certified organic produce and products means that you are supporting certified organic farmers, producers and processors who are doing the right thing for our environment as well as trying to keep us healthy and building a sustainable future for all Australians. For more reasons to choose organic, visit How do you know for sure if a product is Australian Certified Organic? It s easy to tell if a product is Certified Organic just look for the Bud logo! The Australian Organic Bud logo tells us that the product has been certified organic by a certification organisation. You will see the Bud on all kinds of products including food, cosmetics and garden products. Buying products with the Australian Organic Bud logo means you can trust that the product is genuinely organic and has been produced according to strict industry standards, with the health and welfare of consumers, animals and the environment in mind. That means no additives, no chemicals and no growth hormones just natural ingredients the way it should be. Page 4 of 5

5 Where can I buy certified organic products? Certified organic products are available all over Australia. Originally you had to visit health food or specialty stores (and these are still great places to get organic products), but now a lot of certified organic products can be found in regular supermarkets. Look for the Bud logo next time you go shopping! Try certified organic during Australian Organic Awareness Month Every September, for the whole of September, Australian Organic Awareness Month (AOAM) celebrates certified organic products across all industries including food, drinks, skincare, cosmetics, clothing, cleaning products, garden products and even pet food! Australian Organic Awareness Month is Australia s largest educational campaign celebrating certified organic products. September is all about raising awareness and educating consumers about the important values associated with certified organic products: non-gmo free to roam biodiversity friendly sustainably fished socially responsible pasture-fed grown free from harsh synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics and with no added growth hormones. What a great opportunity to search for products that are certified organic and try something new!! Page 5 of 5