European organic and natural standards will be released next Spring

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

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The publication of harmonised European organic and natural standards is just around the corner, according to leading certification bodies at the Natural Beauty Summit.

Draft European standards have been sent to members for comment and will be released for public consultation next month, explained Francis Blake from the Soil Association.

Standards come into force April 2009

This consultation period will last for three months, and the standards are expected to then come into force from April 2009.

The certification bodies involved will then have two years to start certifying to the new harmonised standards.

They are the result of over four year’s of discussion between European bodies including the Soil Association, Germany’s BDIH, and France’s Ecocert.

Under the proposals, to qualify for the natural standard, no more than 5 percent of the total product should be synthetic. However, such products are not obliged to state the percentage of organic ingredients.

The proposed organic standard is much stricter and requires products to fulfil multiple criteria before they can use the label.

A fifth of the total product has to be organic

Valerie Lamere from Ecocert explained the standards in more detail.

To qualify for organic status, at least 95 per cent of the physically processed agro ingredients must be organic, she said. In addition, if an organic version of the ingredient is available, it must be used.

Furthermore, at least 20 per cent of the total product must be organic and like the natural standard, no more than 5 per cent of the product can be synthetic.

Finally, at least 30 per cent of the chemically processed agro-ingredients must be organic within two years of securing the certification, thus ensuring that manufacturers continue to improve their formulations over time.

For a chemically processed agro-ingredient to be organic it must use an organic raw material and be treated with an acceptably ‘green’ process.

How close are we to harmonisation?

Although the European harmonised standard is nearing completion, significant obstacles still remain before full harmonization can be achieved. will report next week on the lively debate that was prompted by the presentation of these standards at this week’s Natural Beauty Summit.

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