What is the Moms Across America Gold Standard?
The Moms Across America (MAA) Gold Standard identifies and certifies companies that have achieved superior levels of organic practices and eco-friendly procedures so that the consumer can trust the products they provide. For a more detailed explanation of the MAA Gold Standard click here.
Why get the MAA Gold Standard?
When shoppers see the MAA Gold Standard seal on a product, shelf talker, or online advertisement, they will know that product has qualities above and beyond most products. Even if they have never heard of Moms Across America, they will know that this product is special. By verifying with MAA your brand is telling the world that you want to and are responsible for not only making food or products that are healthy for our families but healthy for the planet too.
Your integrity will stand out on the shelves and in the world as an example to many to come. In addition to standing out in the crowd, your brand’s commitment to getting the Moms Across America Gold Standard verification will compel shoppers across the nation to look up what the verification means. In the process, they will learn information that most shoppers have not been exposed to, empowering them to make better purchasing decisions, to not only value and buy your product, but other products which make a difference as well.
Subsequently, your brand will be a part of the process of shifting our marketplace from GMO, chemical, and harmful products, to healthy, regenerative products which support a healthy planet! In short, getting the Moms Across America Gold Standard verification means transforming the food supply and products to have a healthier future!
What products can receive the MAA Gold Standard?
The Moms Across America Gold Standard verification is awarded only to food, beverage, and supplement companies who meet our stringent requirements.
What other certifications does the MAA Gold Standard acknowledge?
- USDA Certified Organic, The Real Organic Project, and Organic Certifiers (Full list)
- Demeter BIODYNAMIC Certification, Regenerative Organic Certification
- Safe Catch
- Glyphosate Residue Free by Detox Project
- 1% For the Planet
- PCO 100% Organic Grass-Fed
- Certified Humane
- Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Fair for Life, FairTrade International or Fair Trade USA
- Certified B Corp
What happens once I’m verified?
The MAA Gold Standard is good for 1 year from the date of verification and requires random spot checking 2x a year to remain verified. A Moms Across America team member will anonymously order and send the samples to ensure the random selection of the sample. Manufacturers whose levels are not in compliance with the MAA Gold Standard when spot checked will be given 90 days to improve their processes before the next spot check occurs. Products will need to renew their MAA Gold Standard every year and are eligible to reapply 30 days before the end of their current verification so as not to let their certifications lapse.
Does the MAA Gold Standard ever change?
As technology and best practices improve, so shall our standards. Manufacturers are given a 6 month to 1-year notice of changes to the requirements of the MAA Gold Standard, depending on the requirement. That means that in most cases the new requirements will be in place for the manufacturers next renewal date, but they will have sufficient notice to make any necessary changes to meet the new standard. All changes are made in the best interest of the health and safety of consumers with the best practices available for producers.
What sets the MAA Gold Standard apart from other existing standards?
Moms Across America deeply appreciates and acknowledges the enormous contribution the organic movement has made to our society. However, the MAA Gold Standard does require further testing from accredited labs for pesticides and heavy metals. The MAA Gold Standard also requires signed affidavits for all tiers, 3-5 stars.
Our moms have learned, however, that the USDA and the CDFA only test for 20-30% of the most widely used herbicides and pesticides when checking for contamination of organic. This means our organic food is not being tested for the contamination of 70-80% of the most widely used herbicides. We feel that we can do better. So with the MAA Gold Standard, we are raising the bar.
The MAA Gold Standard requires the food and product producers to get their products tested for twice as many pesticides and herbicides as the USDA or CDFA organic programs, including glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world. As technology develops, we will increase the number of pesticide and herbicide tests required.
How do the MAA Gold Standard allowable levels compare to other verifications allowable levels?
Moms Across America has stated and continues to state that there is no safe level of glyphosate and many other harmful chemicals. Our goal is to evolve our standards to require levels to be undetectable. The current reality is that glyphosate and other pesticides can and do contaminate organic crops at very low levels through rain, drift, and irrigation water by no fault of the organic farmer. And we all need to eat something. Therefore, until we get glyphosate and toxic agrochemicals banned (which we are working on), we strive to shift purchases from the companies that are part of the pollution to the brands that are not using pesticides and herbicides and are therefore part of the solution.
The level of pesticides and herbicides that we allow, for now, are Best Practices Level, meaning the brands are sourcing their ingredients from growers who do not use toxic herbicides and pesticides and take every precaution to avoid contamination in the handling process. They are using best practices to provide clean food. A level of 10 ppb of glyphosate in a food product, although not ideal to Moms Across America, it is indicative of that supplier NOT intentionally using glyphosate or other pesticides.
We want to support companies which are NOT intentionally using glyphosate and other toxins, and therefore cause a shift in the marketplace to safer food. Most organic food companies will test below 10 ppb, but due to contamination, some won't. We urge those companies to decrease the contamination of their products by urging the suppliers to identify the source of contamination (manure could be one), source from other suppliers, pressure the EPA to revoke the license of glyphosate, raise awareness with farming neighbors, and insist on better identity protection practices in handling and processing.
10 ppb is also currently the level that internationally, in the EU and Japan, is allowed for organic products and cannot be refused in imports. MAA is working to create even lower levels however, by creating the Moms Across America Gold Standard and encouraging the food industry to shift their practices. The best way is for food manufacturers to demand that their suppliers no longer use glyphosate or any toxic chemicals as a drying agent on crops before harvest. This would eliminate 90% of chemical contamination. The brands we certify are doing this; they know better and are doing better. When you purchase a Moms Across America Gold Standard Brand you can rest assured that they are taking responsibility for not only health and safety, but for their impact on the planet. We hope our supporters will celebrate and support brands offering these healthy solutions.
Other Factors in the MAA Gold Standard Explained
In the MAA Gold Standard 5-star category requirements include a combination of one or more of the following items: low to no pollution packaging; fair trade and fair local labor. The road to receiving 5 stars is one of true commitment. We urge our brands to strive for no impact on the planet. These requirements may be very difficult to achieve, but necessary. So we urge consumers to support brands that are 3-4 star brands and are working towards 5 stars.
Why the MAA Gold Standard is necessary - I already have USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verifications?
There is no other verification that is as encompassing of a mother’s highest standards. Mothers who are aware of the failings of our government’s regulatory agencies and the corruption of chemical company influence on our nation’s policies and politics have lost trust in our food system. We aim to restore trust. With our careful vetting, research, and requirements of signed affidavits and documentation, we strive to bring ease and peace of mind to mothers and all consumers when they make purchases.
We believe a mother’s only special interest is the well-being of her family and community. We came from that concern for community health when we created this program. We hope you trust that these brands hear us and are collaborating with us to bring you safe, healthy food and products that you can trust.
Once I qualify for the Gold Standard what support will my products receive from Moms Across America and the buying community?
In our Gold Standard requirements, we list the special educational outreach perks brands will receive when they fulfill certain requirements. In addition, all our brands receive a listing on our website, promotion on social media, eblasts, and more. MAA will continuously be working to secure national, regional, and local media to bring the MAA Gold Standard and MAA Gold Standard products to the attention of the public. Our job is to educate the public and support a shift to a healthier marketplace and world. We do this well and we love doing it.
What are the costs involved?
The Moms Across America Gold Standard verification costs are as follows: $1,250 for membership and $250 per products registered. Additional costs, depending on your previous testing, packaging or certifications, may include $40 for each sample tested (of products which cost less than $20, for products which cost more than $20 the brand will need to pay the additional amount) which includes handling and shipping, 2 x per year by a MAA team member from a third party retailer. Discounts are available for small companies and BCorps.
Where is my product certification fee going?
Your annual fees go to our Moms Across America 501c3 non-profit, which is an educational outreach consumer advocacy organization whose mission is to educate and empower mothers and others with actions and solutions to create healthy communities. We have been in existence since 2013 and currently have a Gold Star rating on GuideStar. Your yearly fees, based on when you receive the MAA Gold Standard, support us to implement our programs, campaigns, print materials, research and create educational information to reach the general public. A significant portion of the fees will also go directly back into the Gold Standard to keep its requirements current and cutting edge, and to continue to make the public aware of the Gold Standard program and participating companies.
How long will it take to get certified?
Depending primarily on a company’s expediency in returning the forms to us, and whether or not they have previously (within 6 months) conducted pesticide or heavy metal testing, the Gold Standard Process could take from as little as 2 weeks to 2 months.
When and where can I use the MAA Gold Standard Certified seal?
You may use our Moms Across America Gold Standard seal exactly as provided, without alterations, on your product packaging measuring .5 to .75 inches, on a shelf talker with the name of the specific product up to 1.5 inches and on your website up to 2 inches, and on booth banners and/or signage up to 1.5 feet.
What if my product contains (animal products, etc.)?
Any products which include animal products must use certified organic, biodynamically or regenerative organically grown, or 100% organic grass-fed animal products. The main intention behind these requirements is to ensure that the animals involved are not being subjected to GMOs and toxic chemicals, as studies have shown that these pollutants do bioaccumulate in their muscle tissues, bones, and milk. In addition, if your brand would like to have the 4 Star rating, the animals must be from a farm that has a humanely raised certification.
How often will I be required to test my products and for what with the Gold Standard?
Your products will be randomly spot-checked 2 times a year for pesticides and heavy metals in addition to the initial screening. A Moms Across America team member will purchase and send the sample to an accredited lab to ensure the randomness of the sample selection. The testing 2x a year will entail up to an additional $675 in testing fees to a third-party lab of Moms Across America’s choosing (based on best available methodology and may change). If a brand currently does regular batch testing with a third-party lab, they may submit that testing for our review and it will be accepted as long as the lab is ISO accredited and the methodology/lowest detection is within best available practices.
Is there a list of already approved suppliers?
Moms Across America approves the following suppliers of biodegradable, recycled, and refillable packaging: list will be updated here. If anyone finds an additional company which should be listed, we urge them to submit that company for consideration to be listed in our resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We work with AGQ, Health Research Institute Laboratories (best available detection levels and methodology,) and acknowledge testing from the Detox Project, Anresco, and Brookside Laboratories.
How often does a brand need to renew its verification?
The Moms Across America Gold Standard verification renewal process deadline for resubmission is the anniversary date of receiving the verification 1 year prior. A 30-day delay will be allowed for emergency circumstances. After 30 days the company will be notified that they are no longer permitted to use the Moms Across America Gold Standard seal on any website, marketing, or shelf-talkers. Products that remain in the marketplace, that were verified during the first year, may remain on the shelves. No additional products may enter the marketplace with the MMA Gold Standard logo after the 30-day grace period. Brands will receive three reminders during the 60 days before the anniversary date. Spot check testing will be conducted before this 60-day period so the brand may know if they re-qualify or not. Renewal fees cost $1250 for membership and $250 per product with a 20% discount to companies which sell under 1 million dollars in sales and 10% off for B Corps. Companies renewing more than 20 products receive an additional 10% discount on product fees.
What is the renewal process for the Gold Standard?
To renew the Moms Across America Gold Standard the testing will need to be reconducted (an MAA staff will send in the samples at least 90 days before renewal) and the CEO or authorized person will need to re-sign updated documents which we provide with new dates, and return them to Moms Across America. The process will likely take 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the speed in which the forms are returned to MAA. We request that all documents are returned to MAA in one email within 60 days. If MAA staff needs to chase brands and there is a delay of longer than 60 days than an additional processing fee of $50 per month may apply.
What is the process for getting a product verified?
- Review MAA Gold Standard Requirements to determine if your brand might meet the standards to achieve either 3, 4, or 5 Gold Stars.
- For further access to resources of vendors that meet the MAA Gold Standards such as recommended laboratories, packaging suppliers, and other vendors, review our free access to resources (coming soon).
- Fill out the MAA Gold Standard survey online to apply for verification.
- MAA will review and respond to your online survey application within 5-10 days.
- If you meet the basic requirements, we will provide you with the forms necessary for full verification.
- Fill out and return forms, providing affidavits and if applicable, documentation of third-party pesticide and heavy metal testing.
- If your brand has not tested your products within 6 months of your applications, from one of the laboratories listed (or from a lab with the same methodology and ISO accreditation,) pay the $40 sample handling fee and MAA will purchase a sample of your product from a nearby store or online and mail it to an accredited lab for testing. The lab will bill your company separately.
- After receiving your third-party test results and full documentation and affidavits and making the full payment of $1250 membership fee and $250 per product verification, MAA will review and return our determination of 3, 4 or 5 stars. This process will take 2-3 weeks.
- You will receive our MAA Gold Standard logo and sign usage instructions, listing on our website, and all other educational outreach benefits as listed within 30 days of receiving your verification.
- Each year MAA will randomly purchase and send an additional 2 samples an accredited lab. The lab will bill your brand separately. MAA Gold Standard certification is a one-year verification. Renewing verification requires updated documentation and renewal fees, which are reduced for larger quantities of products. Discounts are available for companies with under 1 million in net sales and B Corps, which also follow sustainable business practices, efficient energy, diversity, and strive for zero waste.
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