If the horsemeat scandal tells us one thing about the food we eat or the products we use, it's that provenance and traceability matter.
I often go on about the importance of organic certification. But without wishing to sound like a bore, if all products we bought were audited and controlled as well as certified organic ones, the food chain wouldn't be in such a mess.
This week we had a good reminder of this as it was time for our annual inspection by the Soil Association. This is part of the system of checks and audits that allow us to put the Soil Association symbol on our products and say that our skincare is certified organic. It takes time; our inspector, Robert, was with us most of the day, and sometimes in large companies, inspections run into two or more days.
The inspectors check that we have up-to-date certificates from all of our growers and farms that prove the organic status of all our ingredients. They check our packaging conforms to organic standards. They audit our production records and stocks to ensure we can account properly for the use of all ingredients. And they check our paperwork can show which customers have received any batch of product we've made. With this detailed record keeping, it is possible to trace every ingredient literally from field to bottle, and then to you, the end-user. We can basically trace exactly when and where the roses that made the precious rose oil in your Rose Moisturiser were grown, and likewise for all other products.
This is also why proper regulation of organic skin care is so important. Under current legislation, you can buy a skincare product that is labelled as organic, expecting all the independently verified traceability benefits that organic offers, and in fact what you have isn't organic at all.
Likewise if a skincare product says it contains an organic ingredient, like lavender oil, who knows if it really is or not unless a non-partisan person has checked if the ingredient has an organic certificate.
I've said it a few times before :-) but to buy in complete confidence, always look for the Soil Association symbol on product packaging if you're looking for something genuinely organic.