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As part of its responsibility to consumers, the Australian tea tree industry not only adheres to stringent legal requirements than ensure the quality and safety of 100% pure Australian tea tree oil and the products that contain it, but also actively interacts with and provides comment and input to both Australian and international regulatory bodies to protect and promote the Australian tea tree industry.
Commercial standards for tea tree oil are determined by international standard ISO 4730 (2004) and the identical Australian standard AS 2782-2009 ("Oil of Melaleuca, Terpinen-4-ol type") and all members of ATTIA must conform to the minimum standards of the ATTIA Code of Practice (COP) which outlines a quality management system that begins on the farm and continues throughout the processing and the supply chain to the end-user.
Due to the proven effectiveness of 100% pure Australian TTO, a market has developed for either adulterated oil consisting of Australian TTO diluted with synthetic components (usually created from other plant based compounds such as sabinene from pine oil) or by creating what is described as “Nature Identical” TTO. “Nature Identical” oil is created synthetically from only 15 of the 113+ components of Tea Tree Oil as listed in the Australian Standard (AS 2782-2009) and International Standard (ISO 4730) for Tea Tree Oil. Manufacturers of these adulterated or synthetic oils carefully balance the mix of components they use to ensure that all of the physical properties of their oil conform to the international standard, including the optical rotation of the product. This has made detection of synthetic oils difficult. These adulterated or synthetic products masquerade as TTO and have no scientific evidence to support their safety and effectiveness. Furthermore, they are not supported by the thousands of years of use by the Australian Aboriginal indigenous population. Synthetically produced oils may be placing consumers at risk. At the very least, it may turn many consumers away from using tea tree oil entirely. The fraudulent use of adulterated and “nature identical” oil is unethical and potentially deprives users of the right to use an essential oil proven to work safely and effectively. Growers are disadvantaged by the practice as the cost of bringing these adulterated or synthetic products to market is significantly less than the cost an Australian farmer can sustainably produce genuine pure Australian TTO.
More information is available on our Facebook site HERE.
Current International and Australian Standards were revised in 2004, providing an analyst with a total of 22 parameters to compare a sample against. More information is availabe in a document "How ISO & AS Standards help identify fraudulent material" available for download HERE.
In some instances these Standards may not be sufficient to differentiate between adulterated/synthetic oil and pure Australian TTO.
ATTIA has identified Chiral Analysis as a simple, inexpensive test that will allow anyone in the TTO supply chain to quickly and cheaply differentiate between pure, natural TTO and crudely adulterated oils masquerading as TTO and there have now been two peer reviewed papers published describing the work. For more information on the methodology please access the following papers:
We are working closely with Standards Australia and several world-class institutions to develop protocols for this test.
ATTIA has also developed a document "Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) Offers Significant Advantages to Adulterated and Synthetic “Nature Identical” Oils" to help anyone in the supply chain from the grower through to the end-user to learn more about this issue. A copy of this document is available for download HERE.
The best way to avoid adulterated material is to insist on Code of Practice accredited pure Australian tea tree oil.
A major part of ATTIA's mission is implementing national standards and a Code of Practice (COP). Designed primarily for grower/producers, the COP is a Quality Assurance system to control and record all facets of the production of pure Australian tea tree oil that its members must adhere to. This ensures that the Australian tea tree industry maintains consistently high quality in its processes and the products derived from tea tree oil. ATTIA’s stringent COP guidelines ensure that tea tree oil manufactured and supplied by ATTIA members is a true market ready product by bringing to the industry a common standard of quality management. Members who are COP accredited are entitled to use the Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil logo on their stationary.
License to use the logo on packaging an promotional material can also be granted to Associate Members both locally and internationally. This is subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of ATTIA. More information and guidelines for the use of the Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil logo can be downloaded HERE.
The quality management outlined in the COP starts on the farm and continues throughout the processing and the supply chain. It was developed using a HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) approach to identify quality hazards and also compliments ISO 9001:2000 quality management systems.
The minimum standards in the ATTIA COP address the following critical control points:
1 Farm layout and operations including:
1.1 A property map clearly identifying the smallest production area
1.2 A recording system to identify all operation activities and inputs
2 Herbicide and pesticide control encompassing knowledge of permitted chemicals, their withholding periods for harvesting, operator safety, storage, application and record keeping.
3 Harvesting which addresses withholding periods, equipment management, weed control, material handling and record keeping.
4 Distillation to address contamination prevention, leaf biomass identification, distillation control, health & safety and record keeping.
5 Oil handling, filtration and storage to manage contamination, storage, batching, sampling, identification, labelling, quarantine, security and record keeping.
6 Shipment and export including:
6.1 Packaging, labelling, inspection & security sealing and record keeping
6.2 Documentation and dangerous (flammable) goods identification
A common theme throughout the COP is record keeping and traceability as this ensures any oil can be traced back to the paddock where it was grown and that all operational activities and inputs including the seed used, fertiliser application and any other farming practices are easily identified.
The importance of ATTIA’s comprehensive COP procedures has once again been highlighted in the recently released European SCCP (Scientific Committee on Consumer Products) Opinion on tea tree oil dated 16th December 2008 which stated:
This means that since all ATTIA members are COP compliant, anyone selling TTO to Europe can, when requested to do so by a client purchaser of our 100% pure Australian tea tree oil, confidently state that we have a full Quality Assurance (QA) system that assures total commitment to quality from the moment the seedling went into the ground to the point where it is packed and exported to the consumer.
Page last updated: 28 Jul 2015