As the demand for organic food has increased so has its availability. We are now able to buy organic food from supermarkets, delis, farmers markets, farm shops and organic box schemes.
The good news is that with this increase in demand there is a greater emphasis on ensuring food is labelled correctly and the high standards of organic food production are met.
The bad new is that there are unscrupulous people out there willing to make a quick buck on the back of this rising demand, with non-organic produce being sold as organic at a higher price.
So, as a consumer what can you do to make sure you’re buying something that genuinely conforms to organic standards?
1. Check the labelling of packaged goods.
By law, the labelling of certified organic products must display the certification number, eg “Organic Certification: UK 3”. This is often accompanied by the name, initials or logo of the certification body.
The certification number shows that the organic product complies with minimum government standards.
When choosing organic produce always check packaging for the certification number prior to purchase.
Current government approved UK certification bodies are:
Organic Farmers and Growers Ltd, UK2 www.organicfarmers.org.uk
Scottish Organic Producers Association, UK3 www.sopa.org.uk
Organic Food Federation, UK4 www.orgfoodfed.com
Soil Association Certification Ltd, UK5 www.soilassociation.org/certification
Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association, UK6 www.biodynamic.org.uk/demeter
Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, UK7
Organic Trust Limited, UK9 www.organic-trust.org
Quality Welsh Food Certification Ltd, UK13
Ascisco Ltd, UK15
2. Ask for proof of certication for loose organic produce.
Where organic produce is being sold loose, proof of certification must be on display to consumers. This should be a certificate from the organic certification body, accompanied by a trading schedule that lists all the licensed products.
Where these aren’t on display, ask the seller for proof of certification. If they cannot provide this you could approach the supplier of the product to ask them about their certification.
3. Report your concerns where you have failed to see proof.
If you are not fully satisfied about the authenticity of a product you should contact your local Trading Standards Officer who will investigate your claim.
To find your local trading standards office visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk.
To make a complaint visit www.consumercomplaints.org.uk