Preview the Organic Standards update

Preview the Organic Standards update

The Soil Association is pleased to share with you the results of its standards review. These updated standards are straightforward, transparent and as clear as possible for Soil Association Certification licensees to use and for the public to understand. We want to be certain that everything we ask Soil Association Certification licensees to do makes a real difference to the natural world, the quality of life for farm animals and the organic food we eat.

You can now preview the updated standards documents using the links below. These standards will come in to effect in April 2019. Changes are relevant to Farming & Growing, Abattoirs & Slaughtering, Feed Processing, Food & Drink, Aquaculture and Seaweed licensees. These updates have been scrutinised by the Soil Association's independent committees of experts and almost 800 people responded to the food and farming consultations. The Soil Association has reviewed the evidence behind each standard and has confidence in their importance and potential for impact. We would like to thank everyone who contributed towards this review.
What will the main changes be?

  • A new, user friendly format
  • Standards which focus on the goal rather than how you get there
  • Licensees will have more freedom to develop new and better ways to meet the standards [1]
  • Helpful guidance on how you can meet each standard
  • Slimmed-down standards documents that avoid repetition, for example: nine previous GM standards are now covered in a single, comprehensive standard
  • Clear indication of which standards are legal organic requirements and which are Soil Association higher standards
  • New ‘Why’ boxes explain the rationale for each Soil Association higher standard - these go further than regulatory organic requirements on key areas, such as animal welfare, conserving the environment, safeguarding antibiotics and protecting the interests of organic consumers
  • 5 new Soil Association higher standards:
    • Requiring natural cover on the poultry range
    • Prohibiting the use of BPA in packaging materials
    • Banning the use of the critically important antibiotic, Colistin
    • Requiring recorded CCTV in abattoirs
    • Clearer permitted methods of emergency killing in abattoirs
  • The Soil Association have harmonised many of their standards with the EU Organic Regulation in areas where the Regulation has improved, or where new evidence suggests the requirements of the EU Organic Regulation are sufficient; these changes were launched in June 2018
  • References to non-organic legislation where this now covers prior organic requirements [2]
  • Suitable lead-in periods for Soil Association Certification licensees to adapt to the updates 

Please note: The Soil Association is also developing a new chapter on Sourcing Organic Ingredients. This will replace the current Equivalence Annex. We will share a preview of this new chapter in the new year.
Is this linked to Brexit?
No - the Soil Association started to review its standards long before Brexit negotiations started. However, we are ready to make any changes needed to respond to new legal or policy outcomes related to Brexit. Our key current priority is to mitigate the impact Brexit will have on the organic sector and Soil Association Certification licensees. Find out more about our approach to Brexit.

If you have questions, please get in touch with the Standards Team.

Watch the accompanying video:

Video thumbnail of the Update to Soil Association Organic Standards YouTube video