In 2007, the EU Council agreed Council Regulation 834/2007 setting out the principles, aims and overarching rules of organic production and defining how organic products should be labelled. This Regulation, still in force, is also complemented by several Commission implementing acts on the production, distribution and marketing of organic goods.
All these legislative acts are the legal basis that govern whether goods can be marketed as organic within the EU, including those that have been imported from non-EU countries. The regulations also define how and when the EU organic logo can be used. There are additional specific regulations governing aquaculture and wine production.
At the beginning of organic farming and its spread, specifications and EU organic regulations determining the production of organic products did not exist yet.
During years, parallelly with the growth and conquest of organic farming, technological recommendations for farmers became specifications, standards, and the system of inspection-certification was established.
The registration of specifications and the necessity of inspections became inevitable due to the globalisation of the market and formation of new commercial channels. Until consumers purchased food directly from the producer and trade was built on trust, certification was not necessary.
In the years around 1900 in all countries, mainly independently from each other, but observing each other’s activity, regulation, guidelines and inspection-certification system of organic farming was formed.
Due to the globalisation of markets, formation of the current form of commerce and its becoming impersonal made it necessary to filter out the false products of the market, hence protecting both, consumers and producers as well.
The first regulation of the European Union determining organic agriculture was 2092/91 EGK. Its introduction counted as a big step also on international level, as it defined the regulatory bases of organic farming at community level.
The EU organic regulation affected all economic operators, who dealed with marking referring to ecological production, manufacturing, processing, import and distribution of labelled products. Primarily it only contained the regulations for crop production, then in year 2000 its part referring to products with animal origin was also composed. Besides the specifications referring to production it also defined the conditions of establishing certification systems, and the rules of marking organic products.
The second EU organic regulation, the currently applicable regulation (EC) No 834/2007 took effect on 1. January 2009. In the background of its new approach were the environment protection and animal wellbeing regulations, the enhancement of sustainable farming and biodiversity, which were published by Közös Agrárpolitika. This EU organic regulation is completed with implementing regulation (EC) No 889/2008, and the regulation determining the rules of import from outside of the EU, the so-called third country (EC) No 1235/2008.
The scope of EU organic regulation covers the following products at the moment:
- living or unprocessed agricultural products;
- processed agricultural products, intended for food;
- vegetative propagating material and seeds;
- it is also necessary to apply in case of yeast used as food or forage.
Products originating from hunting or fishing wild animals can not be considered organic.
Furthermore does not fall within the scope of the regulation the certification of cosmetics, textiles, domestic chemicals. These can only be certified according to a private standard guideline or a country’s own regulations.
Food products manufactured from organic ingredients can not be automatically marked as organic, as the requirements of the EU organic regulation do not only apply to agricultural production but also to processing, and manufacturing and trade of organic foods.
From the aspect of organic inspection and certification of organic products, not only the classical processing activities, like the production of certain processed products, e.g. marmalade, pate counts as processing, but also if a factory packages organic food products, or applies labels to unmarked packaged products.
In case of crop production and animal husbandry, the production of organic and non-organic products is strictly regulated, it is only permitted under certain conditions.
In case of processing plants it is possible to produce organic and non-organic products in the same factory, in case the procedures are done in different times (organic processing is carried out another day) or in a different place (organic processing is carried out on a different machine, production line). Organic products also need to be stored separately from the non-organic ones in time or space.
During processing it needs to be ensured for the organic foods not to be contaminated with non-permitted materials or products, as well as for different products not to be mingled during processing and storage, hence to avoid non-organic products to be sold with organic marking.
Regarding the ingredients of organic foods the regulation contains the followings:
• Organic foods need to be produced mainly from ingredients originating from organic agriculture. As water and salt are ingredients with non-agricultural origin, they do not need to be considered.
• During the production of organic foods only those non-organic ingredients, additives and substances can be used, which are permittedby the EU organic regulations.
• Organic foods produced from plant products with in conversion status, can only contain one plant based ingredient with agricultural origin.
• Ingredient from organic farming can not be present with the same ingredient which is non-organic or with in coversion status.
• The ingredients, additives and substances can not be GMOs or pruducts manufactured using GMO.
• Using ionising radiation is prohibited when treating organic foods, organic forage, or raw materials used for organic foods or organic forage.
Manufacturers need to ascertain and prove to the certification body in each case that the used raw materials originated from organic agriculture.
Therefore each time when purchasing raw materials, the valid certification of those needs to be asked from the suppliers. In order for tracking the organic origin of the products needs to be displayed on their accompanying documents (invoices, delivery notes), as well as the code nr. of the certification body.
To the labels of processed organic food products the following markings need to be applied (besides the general compulsory markings for foods):
• In the list of ingredients the ones with organic origin need to be indicated. This may be done in the way that we include the word organic in the name of each organic ingredient, or we mark the organic ingredients with a star and create an explanation to them.
• To the labels the EU organic logo needs to be applied, along with the code number of the certification body conducting the inspection of the latest processing step (production, packaging, labelling) was done by, as well as the place of origin for agricultural ingredients.
• In case all ingredients originate from the same country, it is enough to indicate the country, e.g. Hungarian agriculture. If the ingredients are delivered from the EU, but from more countries, they need to be marked that they are from EU-agriculture. „Non-EU agriculture” if the raw materials were produced or animals were bred in a third country, „EU/non EU-agriculture”, in case part of the agricultural raw materials were produced or bred in the EU, another part in a third country. In the commercial name of the food product it is not compulsory to indicate that it is organic, but it is recommended in order for obvious marking. Indication of origin from organic agriculture / organic included in the name of the product is possible, i.e. a food product can be marked as organic, if it consists mainly of agricultural ingredients, the composition of which is at least 95% organic, and only non-organic ingredients permitted by EU organic regulations, and non-agricultural components, additives and substances, and the requirements defined in the regulation were complied with.
• In case a product contains one or more ingredients from conventional agriculture, which is/are not mentioned in the regulation, then the word organic can not be inculded in the name of the product.
In the list of ingredients the ones from organic agriculture may be indicated, but in this case the ratio of organic ingredients in percentage compared to the whole quantity of the agricultural ingredients needs to be specified. On these products the EU organic logo can not be displayed, but it is mandatory to indicate the code nr. of the certification body and the place of origin for goods. It is the same for products containing fishing/hunting ingredient. On the label of a product references to organic production can only be displayed in relation to organic ingredients. (e.g. fish in organic olive oil).
• Organic foods may be packaged in any materials that is permitted in the food industry.
Organic farming is an agricultural method that aims to produce food using natural substances and processes. This means that organic farming tends to have a limited environmental impact.Principles
The European Commission has adopted several regulations on the production, distribution and marketing of organic goods.Website