Food and drink standards consultation

This consultation asks whether you support proposed changes to the current Soil Association standards for food and drink manufacturing, packaging and labelling, which are higher than the EU organic regulation requirements. Details of all the proposed changes are in the survey below, which is open until 5pm on Thursday 28 January.

These changes are being made as part of our organic standards review which will make our standards as straightforward, practical and transparent as possible. We want our standards to have the maximum impact with the minimum hassle for licensees.The proposals are based on recommendations from our independent Processing Standards Committee and have been approved by our Standards Board.

Our new standards will clearly show whether each requirement is part of the EU organic regulation or a Soil Association higher standard. Here is a draft of how the proposed standards would look in the new document. 

The main proposals

  • Amending some higher standards to make the intended outcome more explicit;
  • Bringing together related issues into one standard or chapter to reduce paperwork and make the standards clearer;
  • The standards will only say what is required - suggestions for how to achieve it will be moved into a new guidance section;
  • Moving some of the detail from our current higher standards into guidance, or replacing it with a reference to compulsory legislation;
  • Removing some higher standards which, after rigorous assessment, have not proven to be delivering the intended impact;
  • Ensuring there is a clear rationale for all areas where we differ from the EU organic regulation;
  • The standards are presented in a new format, designed to make them clearer and easier to use.

This survey

  • The proposals for each of the higher standards, and the rationale for any changes, are explained in the text accompanying each question.
  • Where relevant, a reference to the standard as it is shown in the new draft standards document is included so you know where to find more information. Standards which we are proposing to remove are not included in the new standards document.
  • There are 58 optional questions grouped together by subject. You can choose whether to answer some or all of them, so it will take between 15 minutes - 1 hour to complete the survey.
  • If you want to stop answering questions and come back later, your answers should remain in the survey if you use the same browser next time you access it.
  • If you would prefer to have a pdf copy of these questions, submit a written response or discuss your feedback with us over the phone, please contact 0117 314 5178 or or write to us at Soil Association, South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol BS1 3NX.

What happens next?

  • The consultation findings will be presented to our Processing Standards Committee in March.
  • They will make recommendations based on consultation feedback, which will be considered by the Standards Board in May
  • If there are areas where we need more information, we will run a more specific and targeted consultation in spring 2016.
  • The final standards will be published in 2017, with a suitable lead-in period for licensees to adapt to any changes.