How does the Organic Trust ensure the integrity of organic food?| Consumer Info | Organic Trust Ltd

How does the Organic Trust ensure the integrity of organic food?

By way of example, when the consumer sees organic beef, organic vegetables, organic poultry, organic lamb, organic bread and so on and so forth on sale in a shop or on the supermarket shelf , this could be labelled as follows:

· the Organic Trust logo
· the words ‘Certified Organic’
· the code:  IE-ORG-03

The IE-ORG-03 code is the official code assigned to the Organic Trust by the Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine to assure consumers of the organic integrity of the organic products on which it appears.  This code also signifies to consumers the fact that the Organic Trust is an approved organic inspection and certification body.  The Organic Trust is included on the EU Listing of Approved Organic Inspection Bodies and organic produce and products certified by the Organic Trust Ltd are therefore acceptable throughout the EU (and further afield by arrangement).

A vast range of organic products and produce carrying the Organic Trust symbol have been exported to many European countries, and overseas markets continue to develop on a daily basis.

What process did the organic produce carrying the Organic Trust logo and code go through to merit this certification label?

Let’s use beef as an example ….. the farmer who produced the beef registered his/her entire holding with the Organic Trust.  His/her farm is inspected EVERY year - at least once – additional inspections are random and unannounced.  Every aspect of the management of the herd is inspected and queried from the straw used to bed the cattle right through to the feedstuffs.  All issues of animal welfare are also fully examined.  The abattoir used for the slaughter of the animal as well as the meat processing and labelling facilities are also inspected and audited by the Organic Trust.  The distribution of the meat is also covered by strict criteria and the meat labelled as ‘organic’ is then placed on the supermarket shelf – fully monitored from field to plate.

What about imported organic produce and products?

All organic food produced within the European Union must be labelled with the EU code of the approved organic certification organisation.  For example, organic food produced in the UK and certified by the Soil Association will have the code GB-ORG-05 printed on the label.  This is the consumer’s guarantee that they are buying a product of organic integrity, properly certified and labelled.

Similarly an organic product produced, for example, in France will have one of the French codes such as FR-AB-01 and instead of the word ‘organic certification’ or ‘certified organic,  will have the word ‘biologique’ on the label.  Similarly in Denmark,  the code DK-0-50 and the word ‘Okologisk’ will appear.

The Organic farming regulations [(EC) Regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008 as amended] specifies the words each European country may use beside the control code to signify that the product is a bone-fide certified organic product.  If you are in doubt about the integrity of any organic product which you see for sale, simply give the Organic Trust a call; provide us with the labelling details and we - in most cases - can instantly verify whether or not it is a genuine organically produced product.

If an Organic Trust registered importer imports produce from within the EU and re-packages this produce, the Organic Trust will verify the integrity of the repackaged produce by auditing the organic licences pertaining to the producers of the imported products – this takes place in relation to every single imported and repackaged product.

So what about imports from outside the European Union?

Can these organic products be produced to very low standards of organic production and compete on an equivalent basis in Europe?  The answer is no - before an organic product which has been produced outside the EU can be imported into Europe, the European Importer is charged with the responsibility for obtaining what is termed a Third Country Import Licence.  Essentially, the details required for such a licence demand that the Importer obtains details of the organic standards used in the production of the particular products and these rules are then examined in detail by the Competent Authority in the Member State (in Ireland this is the Organic Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine) to determine that such products have been produced to organic standards which are deemed to be at least equivalent to the European organic standards.  Once the organic standards for the imported products are deemed to be at least equivalent to the European organic standards, the Importer must then obtain the up to date organic licence for the non-EU producer plus a copy of their most recent organic inspection report and verification from their organic certification body that there are no issues of concern in relation to this producer.  When all of this documentation has been obtained by the Importer and verified by the Organic Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine, the importer is issued with a Third Country Import Licence from the Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine.  However, this licence is specific to the produce produced by the verified producers only and is not a blanket authorisation to import organic produce from non-EU countries.  All imported produce is licence-specific and authorisations must be obtained for each consignment of organic produce imported.  This is then very carefully audited for subsequent compliance by the Organic Trust Ltd.

Recent changes to the requirements for Third Country Imports have been made and are indicated in the Organic Food & Farming Standards in Ireland manual on this website - this is accompanied by an Annex document which specifies the particular requirements for organic produce from a range of non-EU countries.

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A flavour of the type of articles and items you are likely to find in Clover magazine - the quarterly magazine for the professional organic producer - published by Organic Trust.
Clover Magazine

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