Organic Traceability and the Future of Food Safety
New Zealand’s biosecurity and food safety services have come under much scrutiny in recent months. Food scares surrounding infant formula, glyphosate contamination and Genetic Engineering have driven much needed public reviews, especially as many of the businesses involved are exporting overseas under the reputation of New Zealand made, clean, green products.
Having traceable and watertight food safety services is critical to New Zealand’s future economy. It is critical to the viability and security of our primary industries, as well as the safety of consumers both in New Zealand and overseas.
The Ministry for Primary Industries recognised this and earlier this year began undertaking a massive review of their food safety fees and costs. Since 2008, (when the last review was completed), demand for MPI food safety services has increased, along with costs and growth of the export market. This has led to a recent update of 250 different fees, resources and levies which will most likely impact business and processors across New Zealand.1
Based on the current climate, it has never been so important to authenticate your products as safe, sustainable and traceable. Consumers want to know where there food has come from, how it has been made and that it’s safe to use.
Organic certification is the world’s most widely-used, secure and impermeable traceability system. It exceeds New Zealand’s new health and food safety regulations. A bottle of certified wine can be traced back to the exact vineyard its grapes came from; a single ground of coffee can be traced back to the plantation in which it grew; using certification, we can even pinpoint the exact field where an apple was picked. Every single BioGro certified product can be traced back to its origin. This traceable chain of custody is what empowers consumers to trust certified organic brands.
Since its founding in 1983, BioGro has been focussed on certifying farming and manufacturing practices that we believe are the best environmental, sustainable and science based approaches to production. Organic certification has been the way we have implemented and supported these practices.
Although our roots will always be firmly planted in organic certification, the world is now a very different place then it was 30 years ago. The world is evolving and consumer demands are changing. BioGro is therefore committed to expanding our services and developing additional programmes to fit.
One of these programmes is the introduction of a new labelling system for non-GM products. In early March this year, California Certified Organic Farmers introduced a “Non-GMO & More” seal for their certified customers to use with much success and public support.2 We have been following the progress of CCOF with the intention of adapting their non-GM seal to suit the New Zealand market.
Genetic Modification is something New Zealanders feel strongly about. This was evidenced in the recent ruling in Northland supporting the rights for consumers to have non-GMO labelling.3 Buying organic means to buy a product that has been produced without GMO’s or the routine use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Organic products contain no Genetic Modification and lower pesticide residues. They are safer than non-organic products for this reason.
We believe a BioGro accredited non-GM seal is an integral way of enhancing New Zealand’s traceability and food safety services. But we want to know what you think.
If you are interested in any of BioGro’s organic or traceability services, or you have feedback regarding our non-GMO verification programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your feedback and look forward to engaging with New Zealand businesses around this cause.
Donald Nordeng CEO, BioGro New Zealand. www.biogro.nz
1 Ministry for Primary Industries: Radio New Zealand: http://bit.ly/1FaZ544
2 CCOF: http://bit.ly/1zEMAbd
3 Soil & Health Association: http://organicnz.org.nz/node/1020