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Ethical, Fairtrade and organic, what do they really mean?

Friday, October 6, 2017


Sometimes the terms used on labels can be mystifying. They’re thrown around all singing and dancing but what do they actually mean, and are they being misused by companies?


Ethical, Kafoodle menu management software solution

Ethical - “Relating to beliefs about what is morally right or wrong”

This is a great sounding term but its vagueness is something of a worry. At its core, a product labelled as ethical implies that the company has produced it in a morally correct way. But what does that even mean? You can see how easy it is to dig a hole here. It’s easy to assume that a product labelled as ‘ethical’ will have been manufactured in such a way that is deemed ethical sold in an ethical way and purchased with respect to fair trade principles. The ambiguity of the term though can lead to its misuse and the real sign of an ethical company or product is that they can supply proof should you question their principles.

Fairtrade or Fair Trade?

Fair Trade - “a way of buying and selling products that makes certain that the people who produce the goods receive a fair price”

Believe it or not, there is a difference between the single word ‘fairtrade’ and the two words 'Fair Trade'.Fairtrade is an accredited organisation who use their familiar label to highlight brands that meet their international standards.

Fairtrade, Kafoodle menu management software solution

Fairtrade Standards social, economic and environmental standards that are set for both companies and the farmers and workers who grow the food we love. For farmers and workers, the standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, for companies they include the payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects of the community’s choice.” Then there’s ‘Fair Trade’ labelled products without the accredited Fairtrade logo. These products are implying that they abide by the Fairtrade principles. The difficulty, as with ethical, is in proving that they are indeed abiding by them. Without third-party accreditation, you have little assurance that the brand or product is abiding by the Fairtrade principles.


Organic - “Not using artificial chemicals in the growing of plants and animals for food and other products”

There are two definitions for the term organic. On the one hand organic denotes a product of plant-based origin, ie. made from organic matter. But on the other a foodstuff produced without the addition of chemicals, antibiotics or GM. We are obviously concerned with the latter. All organic farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year to make sure that they adhere to the standards for organic food that are laid down in European law.The EU law states that if a product contains 95% organically certified ingredients or above then it can be labelled as organic. It’s interesting to check the label on organic products to see exactly which ingredients have organic certification, it may not be the ones you expect. For more information on organic certification click here or to view the conditions adhered to by organically certified suppliers click here

Fairtrade, Kafoodle menu management software solution
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