When shopping for groceries, we look not only for what is tasty, but also for what is safe. Did you know that these requirements are perfectly met by organic food from the European Union? In this article you will read about the certification and farm control system and how each inspection is carried out. You'll see that it's worth choosing verified products labeled with the EU logo!
For the sake ofconsumer welfare, all EU organic farms are covered by a certification and farm control system. This gives you access to products of proven high quality. It is easy to imagine how dangerous it could be for the environment and for each ofus to grow crops or raise animals without applying any standards. The European Commission has implemented a specific plan to prevent this danger.
If a European farm intends to supply organic food to the market, it must go through a verification process and then be legally recognized by the Certification Body.1 This initial stage lasts at least two years. During this period, the owner carries out production without the use of mineral fertilizers, chemical pesticides and using a system of crop rotation and providing quality living conditions for the animals.2
Only after successfully passing the entire certification process can a producer or processor market his products, displaying the distinctive green leaf logo on their label.3
A certified farmis subject to regular inspections. A farmer must expect two types of visits from inspectors: an annual full inspection and spot checks. These can be announced or unannounced. They are mandatory and can be held in any month chosen by the Certification Body.4
During the inspection, the owner of the farm or his proxy is present, as well as the inspector and sometimes accompanying auditors or apprentices.5 Thevisit plan includes checking each of the following areas:
- Crop production. All crops are inspected to see if the farmer is wary of fertilizers that are harmful to the environment and prohibited in organic production. The inspector takes plant or soil samples to test for prohibited residues.6
- Animal production. The origin of the animals, how they are fed and treated, and thehygiene of the livestock buildings are checked. As with plants, samples of feedor animal products, such as chicken eggs, may be taken.7
- Livestock buildings. The inspection covers the conditions under which the farmer stores agricultural products, feed and fertilizer. This includes not only hygiene, butalso proper ventilation and protection against unauthorized access.8
- Equipment. Athorough visual inspection involves machinery and equipment. Many of them (e.g.,a grain seeder or sprayer) must not be used simultaneously for organic and conventional production.9
- Documentation. The records kept by the farmer, including proofs of purchase and sale, areinspected to compare the declared state with the actual state.10
Such detailed and regular inspections have a huge impact on the safety of all consumers, including yours. Clearly outlined standards are a guarantee of high quality products. What's more, the certification process itself and the subsequent inspections, both planned and random, effectively prevent abuse.
If you care about valuable food, choose products from the EU that bear the green leaf logo. Any producer that uses this labeling must follow the regulations and rules of organic farming at all stages of its operation.11 So the next time you go out shopping, remember - verified food is safe food!
1 B. Sazońska, Zasady prowadzenia gospodarstw w systemie rolnictwa ekologicznego, Radom 2020, p. 23
2 Ibidem, p. 5
3 Official website of the European Commission, „Becoming an organic farmer”, https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/farming/organic-farming/becoming-organic-farmer_pl (dostęp 14.09.2022)
4 B. Sazońska, ibidem
5 Commission Regulation (EC) No. 889/200 (dated 5.09.2008), Title IV "Control.", chapter 1, art. 65
6 Ibidem, chapter 2, art. 70-73b
7 Ibidem, chapter 3, art. 74-79d
8 Ibidem, chapter 7, art. 87-90
10 Ibidem, chapter 1, art. 66
11 Official website of the European Commission, "Inspection and labeling.", https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/farming/organic-farming/controls_pl (access 14.09.2022)