The term ‘organic’ is often used by cannabidiol (CBD) companies to demonstrate high safety and quality standards. However, not all claims of ‘organic’ mean the same thing. In some cases, it refers to products that have a genuine certification, but it’s frequently used incorrectly or just refers to one or two ingredients.
In the UK and Europe, it’s possible to buy authentic organic CBD, but mislabelling of other products makes the authentic ones harder to identify.
Why do CBD brands use the term organic?
The label ‘organic’ indicates that the product is seen as healthier, safer and more natural than its competition. Organic products are those that are made without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or other artificial agents.
By using this phrase on packaging or marketing information, brands hope to add weight to their claims that their product stands out from the rest and meets high quality and safety standards.
Why do customers choose organic products?
Choosing organic products is sometimes seen as a trend or lifestyle choice, but they can offer some real advantages:
Organic methods prevent contamination — Chemical fertilisers and pesticides may enter crops through the roots or leave residue on the stalks, leaves and flowers. This is particularly a problem with CBD because it’s extracted from hemp, which allows contaminants to build up in its leaves and flowers. Consequently, organic hemp is seen as the safest option.
Chemicals may result in lower soil quality — As well as contaminating the food chain, pesticides and artificial fertilisers can remove nutrients from the soil. This is likely to produce inferior crops with less beneficial substances.
Organic farming and production methods are better for the environment — Organic farming is much more than just not using chemicals; it can involve cycling resources, promoting ecological balance and conserving biodiversity. As a result, it’s likely to be the best choice for customers who want to minimise the environmental damage caused by their purchases.
Can anyone label their CBD as organic?
In both the UK and EU, the term organic can only be used in specific circumstances. This is to ensure that customers can quickly identify genuine organic products and that everyone has a clear understanding of what to expect from products with it on the label.
Unfortunately, because regulation in the UK and European hemp market is still being formed, numerous companies continue to use the term ‘organic’ misleadingly or inaccurately.
Related: All You Need To Know About CBD Regulations In Europe
The rules state that foods should only be labelled ‘organic’ if it refers to at least 95 percent of the ingredients. If it’s a smaller portion of the product, then the term can only be used in the ingredient list to show which items it refers to.
While many CBD brands stay within the rules when labelling their products, some get creative and attempt to imply that their products are more organic than they are. Some use it to give the impression that the entire product is organic when it’s only a few ingredients.
One of the most common phrases found on CBD products is ‘organically grown hemp’. This means that the hemp has been grown according to organic principles, but there is no official certification. These products may still be well-made, but the brand has not been evaluated by an official authority.
The only way to be sure that a product has met official standards is to find out if it has been awarded organic certification. Certifications can only be given by recognised authorities when farms and manufacturing premises have been thoroughly inspected and found to make the grade.
Throughout the EU and UK, several different organisations are authorised to apply organic standards. When they do this, they represent the authority of the European Commission or the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Products that are certified display the logo of the authority and the identification number of the control body that awarded the certificate. Some scammers add the phrase ‘certified organic’ to their products, but unless it’s accompanied by an official logo and the location code, it’s unlikely to be genuine.
Is organic certification common?
The number of CBD brands awarded an official organic certification is fewer than you’d expect. This is because the process of implementing the necessary procedures and applying for accreditation is rigorous and costly. Every organic authority has a long, detailed list of standards that must be met.
The process also involves soil testing and regular, detailed inspections. Some authorities also inspect broader aspects, such as fair wages and conditions for employees. While this means that organic certification is an excellent indication of quality, it’s one that’s relatively uncommon and isn’t accessible for all companies.
Products that don’t display the logo of an official organic authority are unlikely to be certified. Those with certification are the only ones that passed detailed inspections and use the correct farming methods.
The phrase ‘organically farmed’ does not often refer to products with an official award, but every effort has likely been made to reduce their exposure to chemicals.