Organic Labeling

The Basics of Organic Products:


Organic Farming and organic food are something new but something old. It has been practiced since the beginning of agriculture. Over time, this changed as science and technology changed the way we do things and how we look at things.

We believe in science and technology as part of the evolution of mankind and humanity. On the other hand, they are examples of activities undertaken in the name of science and technology that have no oversight – other than that of interests specific to those engaging in science or technological advance. It is important to understand the context in which each science and technology are deployed. Something that provides benefits in one usage or context can easily become a threat or nuisance in another.

Products and practices designed to offer one thing – inexpensive food and high productivity may have other consequences unseen until later. People believe they are experiencing some of the consequences of choices made by modern cultures in the last century and are looking for alternatives – such as organic farming to un-do some of the negative consequences they perceive.

People’s interest in organic is not just limited on food and agricul tural products but also in personal care, pet foods, household items, gardening, and other things that will affect their life, health, environment, and conscience.


What is Organic?

Organic product in the pre-historic context is produced and manufactured without the use of chemicals or artificial ingredients and processing aids – good or not. It used the available materials around, and lived with the limitations.

In modern days, it is virtually impossible to get that kind of original organic on the shelves so we have to do the next best thing.

What the market/public/industry say about organic:

Organic as defined by United States Department of Agriculture

Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic.

Organic in Japan - JAS

Organic Foods

The JAS Standards for organic plants and organic processed foods of plant origin were established in 2000 on the basis with the Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods which were adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The organic JAS system has been further developed with the addition of the JAS Standards for organic livestock products, organic processed foods of animal origin and organic feeds which took effect in November 2005.

Operators certified by registered Japanese or overseas certifying bodies are able to attach the organic JAS logo to products that were produced or manufactured in accordance with relevant organic JAS Standards.

Organic food as defined by Wikipedia is pretty much to what the practices are:
Organic foods are foods produced by organic farming. While the standards differ worldwide, organic farming in general features cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
Organic farming and locally grown produce. Instead of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, organic farmers rely on biological diversity in the field to naturally reduce habitat for pest organisms. Organic farmers also purposefully maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil.

Organic as defined by
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

As organic products and organic trend gains popularity, and with the complexity imposed by different rules it follows that mislabeling, claims and misperception, intended or not, are sure to happen. While some of the most organic form of foods are available locally, and based on trust, it becomes problematic to convey authentic hence a certification body and evidence of certification is needed to fill the gap.

Organic certification requires meeting the standard of the specific certifying body, validation of the claim through inspection, maintaining , authenticity through audit and proper labeling. The entire procedure is tedious and challenging but then again it is worth it as the people/buyer has the confidence in organic product.

Organic Standards are done and authored by certifying bodies and vary from country to country. Unfortunately there is no universal standard yet but most countries have its “equivalency” program. This “equivalency” program is highly implemented between Canada and the USA.

“Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. —USDA”

Organic certification procedure in a nut shell:

  • Review your products and operation against organic standard that you are applying for (means the country you are in and equivalency from other countries you are interested to market your product).
  • Application through a 3rd a party certifying agencies
  • Inspection and audit by a 3rd a party certifying agencies
  • Received the organic certificates. (It has to be audited annually to maintain status).
  • Labeling of organic products

Certifying bodies are not certifying agencies. This is strictly implemented in the USA and Canada. In some countries, there are certifying bodies that also act as certifying agencies.

Non-food products (e.g. personal care) are not being certified in Canada.

Non-food products (e.g. personal care) in the US is not automatically certifiable. Please see resources for NOP-USDA Organic.

Common certifying bodies (mostly we deal with):
USA = Organic standard is done by USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) through NOP (National Organic Program)
CANADA = Organic Standard is done by Agriculture Canada through COR (Canadian Organic Regime) and implemented by CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency).
JAPAN = through JAS (Japan Agricultural System)
EU Organic = Organic standard for European community.
SWISS ORGANIC = Organic standard for Switzerland

QUALITY FIRST’ STAND ON ORGANIC - (Common Sense & Practicality of Organic)
Buying certified organic vs. claimed organic is individual decision. In some cases, you might want to deal with the neighboring farm as you know they do it organically even though they may not have an official certification.

In trading and sourcing, sometimes we deal with processors/suppliers/manufacturers that are not certified organic. We are confident of their organic integrity. In some cases, there are conventional sources that are more inherently organic such as in the ancient way of organic as opposed to ones who follow a corporate structured and mandated certification process. Since they are not certified by an organic certification agency, we cannot call them organic “legally”. In this case, we deal with “conventional” product but they are real organic in nature so we call it “All natural”. ALL NATURAL™ = knowing the source directly/personally and is technically and ethically validated. It is an in-house protocol so as to give the chance for a truly organic product but don’t have the capacity of certification.

Organic certification is not a product quality assurance nor a measure of quality but a guarantee of safety from harmful chemicals and GMO substances.

LASTLY, are certified organic more natural and more organic? IT DEPENDS – On the product situation. In the case of shea butter for example, there are many instances of highly processed white odour free, certified organic shea butters alongside more natural, unrefined shea butters that do not have certifications. Under the organic certification scheme, y ou are buying assurance that the legal and measured organic requirements have been meet.