How do I know it's organic?

Organic is a term defined by law. Any food products labelled as organic must meet a strict set of standards which define what farmers and food manufacturers can and cannot do in the production of organic food. Organic product sold in the UK must by law display a certification symbol or number. Health and beauty and textile products are exempt from this law, so it is important to look for a genuine certification symbol for assurance that the product is truly organic.

All farms wanting to produce organic food have to be certified by one of the registered organic certification bodies, and must go through a two-year conversion period before obtaining organic status. It is the certifiers' responsibility to check that organic standards are being met. In the UK there are several different certification bodies. Soil Association Certification, which is the Soil Association’s certification arm, is one of these – any organic product bearing our symbol has been certified by Soil Association Certification.

The certification body must make at least one inspection a year of every organic farm that it certifies. They must also carry out a number of spot inspections. These are unannounced inspections, some of which may be in response to a complaint made about a farm and some of which are carried out completely randomly. These inspections involve checking the crops plants and livestock animals, as well as paper work and records.

Unlike many other food assurance schemes, the combination of legally defined standards and regular third-party inspections, mean that when you buy an organic product you can be confident that the claims made on the label about how the food has been produced can be believed. However, if you have any concerns that someone is passing off non-organic produce as organic, please see our information on bogus organic traders.