The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has published a report aimed at raising the awareness of consumers about organic products.
We should know that a product marked with labels such as: bio, eco and organic, should come from organic farming. This means that it must contain at least 95 per cent of organic ingredients. The ingredients may not be genetically modified, must be grown without chemical fertilizers and with a limited amount of additional substances used. The Trade Inspection questioned every fifth batch of inspected eco products.
In the 4th quarter of 2013, the Trade Inspection inspected the quality and labelling of organic farming products. 219 (22 proc.) out of 980 batches inspected were questioned. Their production is very restrictive: a farm or a processing plant must undergo an inspection in order to obtain a special certificate. It confirms that a specific product meets EU standards for organic production. The easiest way to identify an organic farming product is by its logo which is used throughout the EU.
A seemingly simple thing, but 153 inspected batches were labelled incorrectly. Most frequently, required labelling was missing – the EU organic farming logo accompanied by a word „eco”. Also, it happened that the labels were used unlawfully (the product did not have a special certificate, and according to the list of ingredients of another one less than 95 per cent of natural products were used to manufacture it, so it was not an organic product). Occasionally, the manufacturers recommended their products by informing that they were no-GMO (legal regulations require that no organic farming product may contain GMO ingredients), or by attributing special properties to them.
49 batches were questioned due to their poor quality. The identified defects included the presence of sulfites in bio raisins which were declared to be sulfite-free: sulfur dioxide (E220) is used to preserve dried fruit. Also, the actual amounts of ingredients were lower than those specified on the packaging, e.g. the organic cheese was found to have a lower fat content, muesli – a smaller amount of fruit, or organic tea – less rosa canina.
Trade Inspection activity
The Trade Inspection fined 16 entities, for, among other, selling products which were past their sell-by date, and issued 8 decisions for the sale of low quality products. The outcomes of the inspection were also reported to the Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection, the Sanitary Inspection and the Veterinary Inspection.
How to choose organic products?
Check the place they are sold – “eco markets” or “organic” shops, or the so-called “healthy food” stores do not always sell organic food. They use those terms for marketing purposes and it does not mean that only organic food is sold in those places.
Do not trust advertisements – the expressions such as “from ecologically clean regions”, etc. do not indicate that the product is organic. Organic products have labels which contain words “organic”, “eco” or “bio” as well as the EU organic farming logo (“the eco-leaf”), and the number of the certifying entity. Only such labelling of the product guarantees its organic origin;
Pay attention to labelling – it allows you to check if organic vegetables and fruit sold with no packaging (“loose”) are organic indeed. If organic products are sold without unit packaging the seller must hold a valid certificate which contains a list of organic products, issued by the authorized certifier. The certificate guarantees that organic methods of production were used at each stage of the manufacturing process.
Check use by dates and best before dates of organic food. Remember that conditions for its storage are stricter as no preservatives or antioxidants are allowed in most of the cases;
Remember that often organic food may look less attractive as compared with non-organic food because of natural methods of its production and a ban on using substances improving colour, texture and consistency.
I`m happily married mother of two children. I`m always ensured a healthy lifestyle for my family. I enjoy being an active member of her community and works closely with local charities.