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Production and labelling of organic products

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Production and labelling of organic products

SUMMARY OF:

Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 – organic production and labelling of organic products

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THE REGULATION DO?

It lays down a legal framework for organic products. It contains the basic objectives and general principles for organic farming and illustrates the rules on production, labelling, controls and trade with non-EU countries.

In harmonising the rules on the production, labelling and control of organic products, it seeks to ensure that there is

fair competition between producers and

greater confidence in these products among consumers.

KEY POINTS

Scope

The framework governs:

agricultural products (including aquaculture products), either processed or unprocessed and intended for human consumption;

animal feed;

vegetative propagating material (e.g. roots and grafts) and seed used for crops;

yeasts used as food or feed.

Objectives and principles

The objectives focus on sustainable agriculture and production quality, which must meet consumers’ needs.

The general principles concern, for example, specific production methods, the use of natural resources and strict restrictions on synthetic chemical inputs.

It also lays down specific principles concerning farming, the processing of organic food and organic animal feed.

Production rules

According to the general rules for organic production, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are prohibited in all their forms. Rules concerning the labelling of food allow operators to ensure compliance with this prohibition. Treatment by ionising radiation is also prohibited.

Those wishing to operate both types of agricultural production (organic and non-organic) must ensure that animals and land for these 2 activities are separated.

Organic plant production must comply with certain rules concerning:

ground treatment, which must preserve life and the natural fertility of the ground;

the prevention of damage, which must be based on natural methods but which can make use of a limited number of plant protection products authorised by the European Commission (Article 16 of the Regulation);

seed and plant propagation material, which must be produced using organic methods;

cleaning products, for which authorisation must be requested from the Commission.

Wild plants collected in some areas are also classified as organic products if they comply with certain conditions relating to their harvest and provenance (e.g. the place where they are gathered has not been treated by products that are not authorised for at least 3 years). Seaweed may also be considered as an organic product as long as its area of production and harvest comply with certain conditions.

Organic livestock production must comply with certain rules concerning:

the animals’ origin - they must have been born and reared in organic holdings;

livestock management and care practices, which, among other things, relate to certain features of animal housing;

animal breeding methods, generally natural;

animal feed, which must be organic;

the prevention of disease;

cleaning and disinfection, involving the exclusive use of products authorised by the Commission.

Similar specific rules apply to aquaculture animals.

The Commission authorises the use of a limited number of products and substances in organic farming. These products may be for plant care, animal feed and the cleaning of buildings used for livestock and plant production. The Commission may also set certain limits and conditions for the application of these products.

Holdings which are entering into a new organic farming activity must comply with a conversion period – a transition phase during which organic practices must be respected. The Regulation lays down rules governing this conversion period.

Organic processed feed must contain organic raw materials and may not be processed using chemical solvents. Processed food must contain mainly ingredients of agricultural origin. Other ingredients are permitted if authorisation has been requested from the Commission. Organic yeast must be produced from organic substrates and other authorised ingredients.

The Commission may make exceptions to provisions concerning objectives, production rules and labelling. These exceptions must be limited in time and apply to certain particular cases.

Labelling

Labelling, advertising or commercial documents may use terms such as ‘eco’ and ‘bio’ to describe an organic product, its ingredients, or raw materials.

The labelling of an organic product must be clearly visible on the packaging and contain a reference to the control body that certifies the product concerned.

Since 1 July 2010, the use of the EU logo on organic food products has been mandatory, as has been an indication of the provenance of raw materials used in the product. This indication must be shown in the same field of vision as the EU logo.

Controls

Compliance with the provisions contained in this Regulation is guaranteed by a system of controls based on Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 and precautionary and control measures drawn up by the Commission. This system guarantees the traceability of food in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.

An assessment of the risk of infringement determines the type and frequency of controls. These will be organised by authorities appointed by EU countries. Under certain conditions, these authorities may delegate control duties to accredited bodies, but they remain responsible for the supervision of the controls carried out and the granting of exemptions. EU countries must notify the Commission regularly of the list of authorities and control bodies (the latest list of bodies or authorities responsible for control was published in 2014).

The authorities must also control the activities of each operator involved in the marketing of an organic product before it is placed on the market. Following this control, the operator receives certification that it complies with this Regulation. If irregularities are noted, the authority must ensure that the labelling of the products at issue do not contain any reference to organic production.

Trade with non-EU countries

Products from non-EU countries may also be sold in the EU market as organic products as long as they comply with f this Regulation and if they have been subject to control. This control may be carried out either by a body recognised by the EU, or by an accredited control body.

Marketing and statistical surveillance

The marketing of an organic product may not be hindered in any way by any authority of an EU country other than the authority which has inspected the product.

The Commission carries out statistical surveillance activities based on the data provided by EU countries. The Regulatory Committee on Organic Farming assists the Commission in defining policies for organic farming.

WHEN DOES THIS REGULATION APPLY?

From 1 January 2009.

BACKGROUND

This Regulation has been produced as part of a series of initiatives to foster organic farming In 2014, the Commission approved an Action Plan for the future of Organic Production in Europe,

Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 is currently subject to a proposal to repeal and replace it with a regulation that seeks to simplify the legislation, clarify certain rules and address certain weaknesses in the control system.

ACT

Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 (OJ L 189 of 20.7.2007, pp. 1–23)

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 have been incorporated in to the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Rules for implementation

Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control (Official Journal L 250, 18.9.2008, pp. 1–84).

last update 29.10.2015

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