When selecting a product recognized as organic, most consumers understand that they are reducing their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and carcinogens. While true, many people significantly underestimate the full value of organic food production.
Supporting those who rely on organic farming practices not only reduces your exposure to genetically modified foods, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers, but organic practices also protect the environment for future generations. Organic farming significantly reduces soil and groundwater contamination.
Only products bearing the certification emblem can be trusted to meet the stringent regulatory requirements for organic production. It's the only way to ensure that a product really meets the consumer's expectations.
Organic Practices are Defined by the Agricultural Department
For a product to display the organic certification seal, the emblem that differentiates organic products from the rest, the foods you select must meet the strict requirements established by the Department of Agriculture. The organic certification process commonly requires a commitment of up to three years in advance of being approved to ensure soil and vegetation are contaminant free.
During this time, those seeking certification must also demonstrate the ability to remain compliant with organic practices and prove they can maintain the required documentation. While the certification process is time-consuming and costly, only those approved by an accredited third-party agent are allowed to display the organic certification emblem.
When purchasing prepackaged organic products, it's important to understand the differences between "100 percent organic", "organic," and "made with organic ingredients."
A product simply labeled "Organic" could contain up to 5 percent of a government-approved preservative. Those labeled "Made with Organic Ingredients" could also contain a significant number of non-organic ingredients. While both types of products have advantages, people trying to avoid preservatives and non-organic ingredients are advised to select products labeled "100% Organic".
Certifying Organic Animal Products
Just as organic crops are grown differently than non-organic, Animals raised organically are treated much differently than animals raised for food through conventional practices. On factory farms, animals are often raised indoors in cramped spaces. Antibiotics are commonly used to keep the animals alive in unsanitary conditions. Many are genetically manipulated to maximize profitability.
The life of an animal grown for organic food is much more humane. In addition to the many health benefits of choosing to eat organically, many people seek out organic meats, eggs, and dairy to support farmers who raise animals humanely. Under current guidelines, those raising animals for organic meat, dairy, and organic eggs must:
- Raise animals in living conditions that accommodate their behaviors
- Provide access to the outdoors, shade, and exercise
- Raise animals without subjecting them to hormones
- Raise animals on natural or organic feed, free of GMOs, chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and animal byproducts
- Keep all animals healthy without the use of antibiotics
Of course, the farmers raising animals organically want to keep their animals healthy. Since the use of antibiotics is not an option for organic certification, a farmer's first line of defense is to try restoring health through natural means. Animals are not left to suffer if they are ill. If natural remedies are ineffective, the animal is treated with medications but moved to a non-organic herd if an illness or infection requires the use of antibiotics.
Maintaining Organic Certification Status
Certification is an ongoing process. After being certified by an accredited agent, facilities are routinely inspected to ensure quality standards are being upheld and the required documentation for each animal is appropriately maintained. Just a few of the many requirements that must be documented include:
- A list of all substances used within the operation
- Detailed descriptions of record keeping and monitoring practices
- Keeping detailed records documenting the history of each animal and recording all health events
- Records of pasture and housing rotations by individual animals or assigned groups
- Providing all information requested by the certification agency
- Demonstrating compliance with all requirements
- Passing unannounced compliance inspections
Accredited inspectors are trained to evaluate every aspect of operational standards. Facilities are inspected at least once each year for recertification. Inspectors verify that best practices are followed and required documentation is compliant.
Maintaining Organic Standards Throughout the Production Process
When products are certified organic, that means every step of the production process, every farm, processor, packing facility, and distributor is compliant with current organic certification regulations. That means meat cannot be sold as organic unless the facilities that slaughter and process the animals are also certified. That ensures your organic animal products are not contaminated with prohibited substances. The following standards prevent cross-contamination:
- Organic animals are housed separately from non-organic animals
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned between organic and non-organic processing
- Packaging materials must not be exposed to chemicals or pesticides
- Production and packaging facilities may not use pesticides. Pests are managed with traps, lures, or approved repellents
Since organic product manufacturers must follow strict compliance regulations through every step of the production process, consumers can purchase organic products with confidence. A product that starts organic stays organic; the standards are non-negotiable.
Supporting Organic Practices Helps Protect Our Environment
When you choose organic, you nourish your family with foods that are free of potentially harmful pesticides, hormones, preservatives, or antibiotics while supporting farming practices that help protect our environment for future generations. Organic farming methods conserve our natural resources by reducing soil and water contamination, soil erosion, and protecting biodiversity.
An Organic Australian Favorite Available to US Consumers
For 100 percent grass-fed steaks and beef sourced from hand selected family farms, consider the value of Cleaver's certified organic and grass-fed steaks and beef. Cleaver's organic, free-range cattle are humanely raised on farms that adhere to the highest standards of animal welfare. A family favorite across supermarkets in Australia, Cleaver's products are quickly becoming a favorite as we have expanded into the US market.
The growing popularity of Cleaver's Organic and Free-Range beef in the US may be due to a slight difference in organic standards between America and Australia. In the US, cattle are commonly fed a diet of grass and organically grown grain or grain pellets. To be certified organic in Australia, cattle live on a diet of grass and natural foliage alone. The resulting beef is lower in fat, lower in calories, and is a delicious addition to any organic meal. The Australian organic standards require cattle to be entirely grass-fed and finished. We have adopted the Australian standard of care for our farms to ensure we are bringing you the highest quality beef products for you and your family!