We are independently audited and certified by Soil Association. We meet specific requirements to earn organic grocer certification every year.
What are organic standards? All organic food and drink sold in the EU must meet the EU Organic Regulation. Soil Association — certified products must legally comply with the EU Organic Regulation. They must also meet their additional higher standards. Standards are the rules that define how an organic product must be grown, farmed or made.
The Soil Association developed organic standards in the 1960s. As a licensee, we must meet strict European laws about the production of organic food. This means we must also go further in key areas such as animal welfare and safeguarding the environment.
Why does the Soil Association have higher standards? While all food products sold as organic in the UK must comply with organic regulations, we go a step further. Our stores are certified organic by the Soil Association. This means our stores and records are audited to make sure we're meeting those regulations. Learn more about Soil Association organic certification here.
How certification works
For a food product to be labelled as organic, every organisation working up and down our supply chain — from farmers, to packers, to food processors and organic retailers — they have to meet organic standards and prove it to an organic certification body.
All organic farms and food companies are thoroughly inspected at least once a year. They also need robust systems in place and paperwork that shows the standards are being met the rest of the time.
Once organic farms and food companies are certified as meeting strict organic standards, they are issued with a certificate and a trading schedule. This lists all the crops, livestock or products they are certified to trade as organic.
When products are imported from countries outside of the EU, they not only have to be accompanied by an organic certificate, but they also need a Certificate of Import. This verifies the product is produced to organic standards equivalent to those in the EU.
To ensure that organic certification is carried out consistently, the inspectors themselves are inspected every year. Checks are made by accreditation bodies such as UKAS, and UK certification bodies are required to regularly report to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
This process is designed to ensure that organic food is food you can trust. The system needs to work whether you’re buying veg directly from a farmer or spices in a supermarket where ingredients may have come from smallholders on the other side of the world.