As Australia’s organic industry continues to boom, some consumers are being tricked into buying uncertified products.
But vendors say it’s up to the buyer to check the authenticity of organic goods.
Tom Hartley reports.
Ben Phillips puts his money where his mouth is, shopping at the organic store where he works.
Ben Phillips, Organic enthusiast: “Organic food is really the way it should be.”
He avoids buying his food anywhere else.
Ben Phillips, Organic enthusiast: “Yeah it’s a little bit more expensive but I know I’m getting nutrients in it that might be lacking in some other food that you get from big chain supermarkets.”
Dietitians say consumers are getting the wrong message.
Michael Lawler Dietitian: “And not just choose organic because we think it’s healthy we need to look at the facts.”
And healthy habits involve consuming a variety of nutritious food no matter its source.
Michael Lawler Dietitian: “Non organic can be just as nutritious and just as healthy and it does come down to the grower.”
Australia’s organic industry today is estimated to be worth more than one point two billion dollars.
It’s most prominent certifier laid down its standards more than 25 years ago.
Michael Baker, Australian Certified Organic: “We physically go out on farm to review their record keeping, have a look around and ensure they’re doing the right thing in managing with accordance to the organic standard.”
They say there’s a concern some vendors are selling their product as ‘organic’ without certification.
Kim, Organic stall holder: “No, we’re not certified.”
Becoming officially certified can often take more than three years. Some smaller vendors say they feel it’s just not necessary.
Kim, Organic stall holder: “I think it may be for like a big supermarket.”
She says consumers are just after a healthy, transparent relationship with their grower.
Kim, Organic stall holder: “For a lot of people that’s good enough.”
Nakita Rowan, BUCHI: “I know most of our customers don’t care where whether we are certified or not because they trust us and believe in our product.”
But the ACO says that’s not good enough.
Joanne Costello, Australian Certified Organic: “You can’t get it if it’s just called organic it needs to be certified.”
Food can also be passed off as organic certified under foreign standards.
Michael Baker, Australian Certified Organic: “Operators can either just import those products and on sell them or they can become certified.”
Tom Hartley, QUT News.