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Claiming ‘certified organic’ without certification – what are your views?

In my view of the world, people buying natural or organic products expect to be able to trust the producer to not be secretly using chemicals, or lying about organic certification.  Unfortunately there is a player in this industry who is untrustworthy.

Last week I wrote a blog post about lessons I’d learned, mistakes made and the things I’m proudest of.   At the same time, I’ve been sitting on this information for over a year and sitting on a draft of this post for over 6 months.  I’ve been sitting on it because I am sick of negativity and I didn’t want to seem negative and I feel as if I am revealing the silent shame of the industry I am so passionate about.

As I reflected during the past week on the lessons I’ve learned and what I stand for, I realised that I wasn’t completely ‘leading with passion’, ‘trusting my gut’, ‘choosing what is right (not what is right now)’ or ‘paving my own path’.  I am passionate about integrity.  My gut instinct is that people are sick of being lied to and we need to have this conversation.  I think it is 'right' (even at the risk of sounding negative) to air this.  And, goodness knows, I'm marching to the beat of my own drum/paving my own path!  And so it is that this post sees the light of day.

Claiming ‘certified organic beeswax’ when the wax you are using is not certified organic is,to me, a black and white issue.  Making the claim is not only misleading and deceptive (and thereby a breach of the Trade Practices Act), but also shows a complete lack of integrity.

According to the ACCC, "A business that labels its product as certified organic must ensure that its product is actually certified. Any business that falsely advertises that its product is certified will contravene the CCA".

The CCA is the Competition and Consumer Act.  It "prohibits businesses from misleading or deceiving consumers, or from engaging in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive. The CCA also prohibits businesses from making a range of false or misleading representations. Fines, injunctions and/or damages may be sought where businesses fail to meet these requirements".

Having done my research and verified with their major beeswax supplier that they did not have organic certification [beekeepers are an honest breed] I called the ACCC and they said they are only able to investigate a small percentage of complaints made, but to put it in writing.  The conversation didn't instill much confidence.  I feel like I could do with some bolstering.

How do you feel about businesses claiming their products are certified organic when they aren't?

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Unfortunately for us I know that these claims have impacted Queen B financially.  I know that, for me, organic certification is important in the food I buy and the products I use on my skin and in my home.  My gut feeling is that it would also be an important consideration to the type of person who would buy beeswax candles.  Two candles, side by side, one claiming certified organic and another not, I too would probably choose the one claiming certified organic, as I know many people have [although having been around for as long as I have, I would expect to see the certifying body on their website and if it wasn't there I'd email requesting those details].  I've randomly met them.  I've spoken to them on the phone.  I have to admit that it does make me mad that an ethical business can suffer because of another with no ethics.

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There is a very good reason that we haven't gone down the 'certified organic' path at Queen B.  Organic certification in so far as it relates to honey & beeswax is interesting.  Simply put, organic certification requires that your hives are 5km's from the nearest industry or chemically sprayed field, and as bees can fly up to 14km's, certification is an expensive marketing ploy.  That, of course, is a very simplistic explanation, but the fact remains that it is rare to find a third or fourth generation beekeeper who has gone down the path of organic certification.  They employ good husbandry to ensure their hives are healthy and antibiotic & chemical treatment free.  Every beekeeper that we buy from is a third, fourth or fifth generation beekeeper.  I value experience and integrity over marketing.

If you have been duped by these claims of organic certification, I'd love it if you could pop me an email... I assume that the ACCC, like me, appreciate evidence and the more evidence I have, the better.

And finally, because I just worked out how to use polls on WordPress and I think they're fabulous -

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If you're going for 'other' please keep it clean because I'm moderating the comments so that this doesn't get out of hand!

As always I appreciate your comments and feedback whether here, on facebook, on twitter or privately via email.  If you do feel passionately about this, please spread the word so that others can have their say too.

Cate x

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