Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Certification schemes

Sustainability standards and certification schemes are voluntary business standards relating to environmental, social, ethical and food safety issues. Typically they are assessed by an independent certification organisation. Consumer-facing certification labels, when used, show people that company practices fulfil certain criteria or meet certain standards, and can in principle help inform their consumption choices. With new schemes added each year, there now exist hundreds of sustainability certifications. Some of the most well-known include ‘Fairtrade’, organic (certified nationally), and the Rainforest Alliance. While these certification efforts can lead to positive outcomes, some argue they may not always be as effective as intended for multiple reasons, some of which are outside the control of the participating companies. For example, the effect on poverty of various voluntary certification standards t is sometimes thought to be limited. In addition, for many certified commodities there is an oversupply relative to demand (i.e.up to 50% of compliant products are not sold as such). Most fundamentally, certification standards do not address the question of what level of demand can be deemed sustainable.

19 May 2020

This book explores how proteomics - the study of the set of proteins produced by an organism or system - can be used to verify claims about the origin of foods such as milk, meat, fish, wine and honey.

3 March 2020

In this podcast, FCRN member ffinlo Costain interviews Jenny Packwood (Director of Responsibility & Reputation for KFC UK & Ireland) and Annie Rayner and Kelly Watson (experts in broiler systems and behaviour, working at FAI Farms) to find out how the European Chicken Commitment is changing the welfare of chickens and to discuss the practical implications of delivering the requirements of the commitment.

24 February 2020

In this paper, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen finds that voluntary zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) cover more than 90% of the soy exported from the Brazilian Amazon, but only 47% of soy exported from the Brazilian Cerrado biome (a type of wooded savannah). 

3 February 2020

In this podcast from the World Resources Institute, Andika Putraditama (sustainable commodities and business manager at WRI Indonesia) discusses how buyers have responded to certified sustainable palm oil. Some prefer to avoid palm oil altogether. Putraditama argues that encouraging certified palm oil would incentivise the palm oil industry to change its practices.

2 December 2019

This podcast, part of the BBC programme The Food Chain, explores initiatives that hope to change how palm oil is produced. It outlines some of the environmental and social issues associated with conventional palm oil production, and discusses a smallholder certification scheme in the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo.

4 November 2019

This brief from Trase (a partnership between the Stockholm Environment Institute and Global Canopy) examines soy grown on unregistered farms in Brazil. Legally, farms in Brazil should be registered with the Rural Environmental Registry as the first step of complying with the Forest Code, which stipulates how much native vegetation should be left intact on private properties.

16 July 2019

This article in AgFunderNews explores how the “pasture-raised” label is used in poultry retail in the US. The label, which has not yet been officially defined by the USDA or the FDA, has attracted controversy from some food industry actors and animal welfare advocates, who say that some producers using the label do not have welfare standards as high as customers expect.

17 June 2019

This report from environmental NGO Greenpeace International documents the efforts of over 50 companies to demonstrate their progress towards ending deforestation by disclosing their cattle, cocoa, dairy, palm oil, pulp and paper and soya suppliers. No company was able to demonstrate significant action on eliminating deforestation, while those companies that do publish their suppliers all source from producers involved in deforestation.

24 April 2019

This paper by FCRN member Claire Pulker of Curtin University analyses the presence and quality of supermarket corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies related to all attributes of public health nutrition, including sustainability. The paper audited Australian supermarket own brand foods to establish the extent to which CSR policies are translated into practice.

17 April 2019

This book, edited by Andrew Kennedy and Jennifer McEntire, examines issues of food traceability throughout the food system, including current challenges, research and potential solutions.

8 April 2019

This paper uses consumer surveys from the UK and Germany to explore how the intention to purchase food with ethical claims is affected by the so-called “warm glow” of altruism, i.e. “a feeling people experience when performing an apparent altruistic act”.

12 September 2018

This book, edited by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu, examines the development and implementation of a variety of indicators of sustainability for the food system.

17 July 2018

The US divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever have established the new Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, hoping to influence policymakers and regulators in five key areas: product transparency, nutrition, the environment, food safety and a positive workplace for food and agriculture workers. According to the Washington Post, the new alliance supports the reduction of salt in packaged foods and the introduction of “nutrition facts panels” to highlight sugar and calorie information (read more here).

10 July 2018

UK charity Oxfam has launched a new campaign, Behind the Barcodes, to highlight human suffering in the food supply chain. Oxfam has scored the major UK supermarkets on their human rights policies in the categories of transparency, workers, farmers and women, and is encouraging shoppers to contact supermarkets to voice their concerns.

21 May 2018

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) hopes to use blockchain technology to make the entire seafood supply chain traceable. Working with tech startup TraSeable, fishing company Sea Quest and blockchain company Viant, WWF is running a pilot project to trace tuna through the supply chain by tagging catches with radio-frequency identification chips and QR codes - which can be scanned by a mobile phone.

21 May 2018

Shoppers do not notice sustainability rating logos on packaging, according to a report by QuadPackaging and Package Insight. In the study, 60 participants had their eye movements tracked while “shopping” in a retail laboratory. The products they were presented with were fictional brands with logos claiming different levels of sustainability. The logos did not represent a real sustainability standard. While 40% of the participants said that sustainability affects their purchasing decisions, the eye-tracking technology showed that 92% of the participants did not notice the sustainability logos.

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