New draft ACOS 2013 out for public comment now
Q&A: What and why the ACOS 2013 changes?
Organic standards are solid at the core, with requirements to proactively manage natural farming systems, maintain high animal welfare standards, and process and handle organic products with minimal to no intervention/non natural ingredients or aids. The principles of Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care as articulated by the IFOAM Standards help guide standards decisions, as do developments in trade and international standards across the world.
Q1: Why this publication and how does it relate to base Australian standards as well as international standards?
The Australian Certified Organic Standard (ACOS) is more than simply Australia’s leading certification standard, as it brings together international and national/domestic standards requirements into one document, while via the Bud simplifying the end choice and label for consumers to choose organic.
It is own by the members of Australian Organic Ltd (formerly BFA Ltd) which gives it further credibility and support from industry by being owned, and managed by the very industry and movement which brought organic standards into existence in Australia in the 1980s.
The Bud is a Certified Trade Mark, as approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and IP Australia. For this reason Australian Organic Ltd is obligated to maintain a standard that specifies the parameters and use for such a mark. In addition, the ACOS delivers for the organic industry an industry owned, freely available standard, which responds to the needs of the industry across its range of stakeholders from input manufacturers and farmers, through processors and marketers, including retailers, importers/exporters and consumers.
For this reason every 2-3 years Australian Organic Ltd undergoes a review of the current standard in place, and adds in modifications or additions made in between publications, to create an updated version for industry members and certified clients.
The Australian Certified Organic Standard is a living document, and while there are core organic principles, technologies, trade environments, and public sentiment can and do change through time, requiring an ongoing review of assumptions and needs of stakeholders with an interest in the organic sector.
Q2 : What is the timeframe for delivery of the ACOS 2013:
Phase 1: December 2012
Approval by Australian Organic Ltd Board of draft ACOS 2013 for comment.
Phase 2: 14th January to 28th Feb 2013
Working draft out for comment by industry members and technical stakeholders. Comments or requested changes from industry members to follow the format outlined below for submissions.
Phase 3: 28th Feb to 9th March 2013
Internal review/modifications conducted by Australian Organic Ltd technical team and Standards Convenor as required including international/national standards cross check to ensure compliance/equivalence.
Phase 4: 10th March to 30th April 2013
Final draft document out for public and industry comment. Comments or requests for change to follow the format outlined below for submissions.
Phase 5: 15th May 2013
Publish to web final document with requirement for adoption by certified operators by July 2013, unless prior consultation and approval from ACO.
Q3 : What are the requirements for making comments on the ACOS 2013:
Comments or request for changes (to be accepted for review) need to:
Identify the proposing or commenting person/s, including:
◦ Name (if a Company, both the Company and nominated person’s name)
◦ Address (mailing and physical address)
◦ Other contact information (telephone, email address)
Comments need to clearly identify the proposed revision including the complete proposed text and reference the document, section/number and page to be revised. If there is existing text, it is required to state the existing text to be omitted/changed in addition to the new text.
Revision proposals should provide a description of the purpose of the proposed revision including the argument(s) in support of the proposal. Proposals should also present any relevant history surrounding the issue and include any supporting documentation or applicable research.
Submissions will carry additional weight when arising from an industry organisation and/or an Advisory Group process, while all submissions will be reviewed in light of international and nationally relevant standards.
There is no guarantee that submissions will be accepted even with modification or revision, as trade access and other industry standards considerations will also be required to be taken into account in reviewing the merits of all submissions.
The Australian Organic Ltd Board will be the final arbiter and decide and approve the final version of the ACOS 2013 drafts and final ACOS 2013 publication, based on advice from the sectoral Advisory Group Convenors including the Standards Convenor.
It is the policy of Australian Organic Ltd to align with international and national standards wherever feasible, rather than making it more difficult or complex for Australian producers and marketers, except where there is widespread stakeholder support for such changes. In such instances proposals shall be also placed before relevant international and/or national standards forums for review usually prior to changes being accepted.
All submissions need to be marked ACOS 2013 submission. Please ensure you obtain a confirmation or receipt when you send to us.
Q4 : What are the main things that have changed/are proposed to be changed in the ACOS 2013?
The ACOS 2013 draft has a tracked changes version for cross checking changes with the ACOS 2010 version. Some of the biggest changes include: additions relating to EU; the removal of farm food safety (covered by FreshCare) and specifications for Salt and Water (these to be covered under separate specifications) plus specifications pertaining to a sunsetting for allowance of mulesing and other practices.
This list is non exhaustive and industry members are encouraged to check all sections of the ACOS relevant to their sector in the coming months ahead:
The monogastrics sector has been particularly active in the prior few years in clarifying and tightening the specifications for production requirements for range management, shed design, etc. Changes proposed are included here and some of these have already been put forward to other national standards forums.
Salt and Water specifications are proposed to be removed from the organic standard, given they are not organic per se.
Farm Food Safe (section 4.6) is proposed to be fully removed, in line with recognition of FreshCare as meeting those requirements, which is offered by ACO under the FreshCare system, in tandem with organic auditing requirements.
EU aquaculture: further additions to this section will be inserted for comment in the second public round of comments (in addition to those in this draft). Relevant industry members are encouraged to comment on this section prior to its posting with views. Due to changes in the EU a new section is being added to enable market access to this market. This would be EU specific however should industry desire such specifications could be made Australian specific as well across industry.
Other EU additions include specifications relating to livestock, packaging, traceability, wine, etc. The reason for these additions, specific to those wanting to have product sent to, or directly exporting to, the EU, are required under the new EU arrangements to also comply with these specifications. ACO is now directly accredited for EU access, however due to Australian export laws products are also still required to be exported in compliance with the Administrative Arrangements of DAFF and therefore also in compliance with the DAFF National Standard. This does not apply to operators outside of Australia for exporting into the EU.
Mulesing, already an extremely restricted practice, is proposed for sunsetting by 2015, in line with other international and national standards.
Rotenone is proposed as being expressly banned from use in cropping systems for pest control, putting it in the same class as nicotine.
Silviculture has a proposed addition, widening the recognition of forestry schemes outside of just the FSC system.
Lastly there will be a new Logos section added to the website and to the final public comment draft, which will be also sent out separately to certified operators, reflecting a refresh of the use of the Bud logo on organic and approved products.
General Organic Standards Q&A
There are regularly questions about organic standards and regulations in Australia and we trust the following assists in you charting this area for your business. If you have further specific questions feel free to contact us by phoning +61 07 3350 5716 or via our Contact Page.
Q: What standard am I certified to?
A: The Australian Certified Organic Standard and updates to this document from time to time. This is the Standard owned by Australian Organic Ltd (formerly BFA Ltd) members and outlines the requirements for placement of the Bud logo on certified organic products. It is free and available on line at www.bfa.com.au. This standard brings other standards together and outlines how an operator may then in turn place the most recognized organic logo the Bud on products in Australia as well as for export. This standard covers off on all the requirements of the Australian Standard referred to as the AS 6000 plus much else besides. The ACOS can best be described as the “AS 6000 plus”. It also incorporates other regulatory requirements and has been more recently assessed for equivalence with the EU regulations.
Q: So what are the other standards that are talked about in Australia?
A: There has been now for over two decades, almost as long as Australian Organic Ltd (BFA) itself has been setting organic standards, a National Standard (owned by DAFF, formerly AQIS) relating to export of products to selected markets. In the 1990s this standard was particularly relevant for the EU market while recognized by a limited number of other countries. More recently, through this decade the international market access model has shifted (by the likes of the US in particular, now Japan, Korea, etc) to one of directly recognizing certification agencies such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO) certification program. The EU recognition of the National Standard remains (albeit not still yet for livestock) but the model has increasingly shifted to seeing less relevance for the DAFF export program the way it was set up in the 1990s.
Australian Certified Organic Pty Ltd (ACO), the wholly owned subsidiary of Australian Organic Ltd, now carries 7 separate internationally relevant accreditations directly with agencies for different markets (the latest being Korea). While far from ideal for industry members, this has been the basic and crude reality of international trade, and in this challenging space our industry group has put considerable resources behind ensuring markets are as open as they possibly can be for our members.
In a decade that has seen DAFF slipping behind in market access and recognition for Australian exporters, Australian Organic Ltd as a Group has moved forward to ensure there remains choice and market access wherever possible for Australian producers and value adders. This is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable years ahead – ie it will be up to industry, not government, to resolve many of these issues and secondly (regrettably but a reality) more, not less, governments internationally are not likely to recognize Australian standards but continue to craft their own – meaning direct certification to their requirements (via the likes of ACO) will remain a reality for access into those markets.
Lastly and what does cause some confusion, there are other international standards at play, and some of this product also finds its way to Australian retail shelves. Such standards include those of the USDA (NOP); Japan (JAS); Canada (COR); Korea, etc. In each instance ACO, is accredited directly to those requirements for access into those markets. Operators however need to have a specific ACO certificate for such markets for access (eg an ACO NOP certificate, etc) and on occasion the standards and certification requirements do differ from that of the ACOS and other standards relevant within Australia.
Q: So where does the Standards Australia organic standard fit in?
A: The AS 6000 which is the Standards Australia organic standard, is a voluntary domestically relevant base standard. While the AS 6000 remains a voluntary standard it may be used in future by the ACCC, in concert with industry standards such as the ACOS, to prosecute less than scrupulous traders not complying with industry recognized standards and certification. Australian Organic Ltd is involved in this standards setting forum and recognizes it as a legitimate forum nationally for reviewing standards issues, alongside its own standards setting and industry regulatory activities. Australian Organic Ltd is working with industry and government to achieve one common base standard (rather than a split between an export standard and a domestic standard). It is hoped that once DAFF has completed its review of the Export Orders that this may be achieved.
Q: So what is Australian Organic Ltd doing to continue to represent my interests as an industry member in national forums?
A: Australian Organic Ltd remains very focused on standards setting leadership and involvement both now at national and international levels to ensure members and consumer stakeholder interests are understood and integrated into standards where relevant. Such forums include the committee overseeing the IFOAM Standard internationally, the DAFF NSSC and OISCC industry forum for the National Standard, and the Standards Australia FT 032 standards committee in addition to Australian Organic Ltd’s own ACOS.
Most importantly Australian Organic Ltd is putting additional resources into supporting its sectoral Advisory Groups to ensure that its own standards setting activities are clearly aligned with industry practices and realities. At the end of the day, while there are ongoing calls for legislation for organic products in Australia, the political reality, as well as the reality on the ground, suggests otherwise. It will always remain the case that irrespective of further government involvement into the future, (which gets called upon to solve and regulate everything these days) the real regulation of the production and marketing of organic products will rely on the resources and vigilance of our industry itself. Australian Organic Ltd is taking this task very seriously by putting considerable resources in the year ahead into expanding the promotional activities surrounding the Bud logo programs and explaining to mainstream consumers the benefits of organic products, while also investing considerably in ongoing review and maintenance of standards and presence at standards forums of relevance to members.
Download Australian Certified Organic Standard (ACOS) 2010
Alternatively to order your hard copy, contact the Australian Organic office on 07 3350 5716.
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ACOS is used directly by the majority of industry in certifying organic products, and is best known as the standard which sits behind the Australian Certified Organic ‘Bud’ logo seen on the majority of products in the Australian marketplace. Read more in the Frequent Q&A section on this page.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 2
BACKGROUND ON BFA 5
1 SCOPE 6
2 DEFINITIONS 7
HOW TO USE THIS STANDARD 12
CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: GENERAL 13
3 BASIC CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS 14
3.1. CERTIFICATION PROCESS 14
3.2. MAINTAINING CERTIFICATION 17
3.3. NON-COMPLIANCE AND CORRECTIVE ACTION REQUESTS 20
3.4. DOCUMENTS, RECORDS AND AUDIT TRAILS 22
3.5. LABELLING, PACKAGING, MARKETING MATERIAL & INGREDIENT SPECIFICATIONS 23
3.6. PARALLEL PRODUCTION 26
3.7. TYPES OF CERTIFICATION 26
3.8. CERTIFICATION TRANSFERENCE/RECOGNITION ARRANGEMENTS 27
3.9. DEFERRAL OF CERTIFICATION 28
STANDARDS REQUIREMENTS: GENERAL: PRIMARY PRODUCTION 29
4 GENERAL PRODUCTION STANDARD – PRIMARY PRODUCTION 30
4.1. SOIL FERTILITY AND HEALTH MANAGEMENT 30
4.2. BROUGHT-IN MATERIALS, STOCK AND EQUIPMENT 31
4.3. COMPOSTS 33
4.4. WATER MANAGEMENT AND ECOLOGY 34
4.5. PEST, DISEASE AND WEED MANAGEMENT 36
4.6. HACCP BASED FARM FOOD SAFE 36
4.7. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY 39
4.8. CONTAMINATION (CHEMICAL, GENETIC, PHYSICAL) SOILS AND PRODUCE AND BUFFER ZONES 40
STANDARDS REQUIREMENTS: SECTOR SPECIFIC 45
5 LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION 46
5.1. LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT - GENERAL 47
5.2. POULTRY – MEAT AND EGG PRODUCTION 53
5.3. PORCINE (PIG) PRODUCTION 56
5.4. DAIRY PRODUCTION 56
5.5. CAPRINE (GOAT) PRODUCTION 57
5.6. MISCELLANEOUS INTENSIVE PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENTS 58
5.7. EXTENSIVE RANGELAND PRODUCTION 58
6.1. PRODUCTION FACILITIES, PROCESSES, RECORDS & PROCEDURES 60
6.2. ANIMAL PRODUCTS 64
6.3. DURABLE FOODSTUFFS 65
6.4. PERISHABLES (FRUITS, VEGETABLES) & WET PROCESSING 67
6.5. BEVERAGES 67
6.6. MISCELLANEOUS PROCESSED PRODUCTS: PET FOODS; COSMETICS; FIBRES 67
7 MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION SYSTEMS 74
7.1. HONEY AND BEE KEEPING 74
7.2. GREENHOUSE PRODUCTION, NURSERIES AND SEED PRODUCTION 77
7.3. SPROUTS INCLUDING WHEATGRASS 79
7.4. MUSHROOMS 79
7.5. WILD HARVEST 80
7.6. SILVICULTURE / FOREST MANAGEMENT 81
7.7. AQUACULTURE 82
7.8. SPECIAL PROJECTS, PLANTATIONS AND ESTATES – INTERNATIONAL 84
7.9 FAIR TRADE - ETHICAL TRADE 86
8 MARKETING & HANDLING 90
8.1. RETAIL AND BUTCHER 90
8.2. WHOLESALER/EXPORTER/IMPORTER 91
8.3. RESTAURANTS AND PREPARED FOOD SUPPLIERS 92
8.4. TRANSPORT AND STORAGE OPERATIONS 93
8.5 FARMERS MARKETS AND OTHER MARKETS 94
9 MANUFACTURED INPUTS, AIDS & ADDITIVES AND APPROVED SERVICES 96
9.2. AGRICULTURAL INPUTS – SELECTION CRITERIA 96
9.3. AIDS AND ADDITIVES – SELECTION CRITERIA 98
9.4. CLEANSERS, SANITISERS AND DISINFECTANTS 99
9.5. EDIBLE MINERALS 99
9.6. SPRING AND PURE WATER 100
9.7. APPROVED SERVICES 101
EXPLANATION TO ANNEXES FOR CROP AND LIVESTOCK INPUTS & TREATMENTS 102
ANNEX I: CROP PRODUCTION INPUTS 104
ANNEX II: LIVESTOCK TREATMENTS & INPUTS 112
EXPLANATION TO ANNEXES FOR PROCESSING AIDS & ADDITIVES, AND SANITISERS 115
ANNEX III: PROCESSING AIDS & ADDITIVES 116
ANNEX IV: CLEANSERS, DISINFECTANTS, AND SANITISERS 120
ANNEX V: BIODYNAMIC STANDARD 121
ANNEX VI: LOGO TYPES 123