Organic, certified organic, Australian Certified Organic… there is consumer confusion over the meaning of different organic claims within Australia, and even more so in other countries around the world. We look at what it means to claim "certified organic".
There are numerous organic certifiers worldwide, and every one certifies cosmetic products to different standards. So it's hardly surprising there needs to be clarity around what the other symbols mean and what constitutes 'certified organic'.
Organic v natural
The term 'organic' means much more than just 'natural'.
A product can be 100% natural, but if it has been farmed using conventional methods, such as pesticides and chemical fertilisers, it is not organic.
Organic farming is an innovative method of growing and producing crops. It takes an earth-friendly, holistic approach without using synthetic chemicals, fertilisers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
When a product claims to be certified organic, the ingredients in that product are grown, manufactured and processed using organic methods.
ACO = stamp of integrity
In Australia, the only way to guarantee a product that is claiming to be organic is, in fact, genuinely organic is to look for the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) logo.
The Australian Certified Organic Standard is one of the world's most rigorous standards for organic production.
ACO certifies organic cosmetics under the Australian National Standard, National Organic Program (USDA) and COSMOS standards. Although each bar has stringent international organic standards for cosmetics, they have different characteristics and requirements.
So consumers buying a product with the ACO logo are assured it has met rigorous certification checks and complies with strict ACO standard requirements.
Types of organic claims in Australia
Organic claims differ according to the amount of non-organic ingredients in the product.
- 100% certified organic content can claim "100% organic" + ACO logo
- 95-100% certified organic content can claim "certified organic" + ACO logo
- 70-95% certified organic content can claim "made with certified organic ingredients" + certification number (except for cosmetics). These products can NOT use the ACO logo
- <70% certified organic content can NOT make any certification claims or use logo but can list ingredients as "organic."
USDA (US Department of Agriculture) organic certification is a United States process for producers of organic food and other organic products, including personal care.
Food products claiming to be organic must meet the USDA's National Organic Program's (NOP) strict standards before they can claim to be organic and display the USDA organic seal.
However, when it comes to cosmetics, the definitions aren't as clear, as the USDA doesn't have the same control over personal care products as food.
Therefore, you may find shampoo, skincare, makeup and other personal care items manufactured in the US claiming to be organic. Still, you probably are only buying the genuine article if they carry the USDA organic seal.
Aloe Vera Extract 200:1 is an example of USDA-compliant, Kosher compliant and Halal-compliant.
Image courtesy of https://botanifique.com/