The new European organic logo is now mandatory on pre-packaged organic food and beverage products produced in the bloc, after new labelling regulations came into force on July 1.
The new logo, made up of 12 stars in the shape of a leaf, is designed to provide consumers with “complete confidence” that the goods they purchase are produced in line with EU organic farming regulations, said the European Commission.
All new organic products launched on the market in the European Union must now carry the logo, but industry has until 1 January 2012 before labels on all existing products need to be changed. The logo remains voluntary for imported products.
Where used, the logo must be accompanied by an indication of the place where the agricultural raw materials were farmed, stating that raw materials originate from 'EU Agriculture', 'non-EU Agriculture' or 'EU/non-EU Agriculture'. If all raw materials have been farmed in only one country, the name of this specific country, in or outside the EU, can be indicated instead.
National, region, or private labels will be allowed to appear on packaging alongside the common EU logo.
Under the EU’s new regulations, products can only be labelled as organic if:
- At least 95 per cent of the product's ingredients of agricultural origin have been organically produced;
- The product complies with the rules of the official inspection scheme;
- The product has come directly from the producer or preparer in a sealed package;
- The product bears the name of the producer, the preparer or vendor and the name or code of the inspection body
- The product does not contain GMOs
Widely recognised symbol
“Our hope is that the new EU logo can develop into a widely recognised symbol of organic food production across the EU, providing consumers with confidence that the goods are produced entirely in-line with the strict EU organic farming regulations”, said EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Dacian Cioloş.
“I hope that these changes will give a boost to the organic farming sector, but also further enhance consumer protection”.
However, the new logo does not have all-round support. According to the UK’s Soil Association, the nation’s organic watchdog, the EU logo does not tell consumers anything new about the provenance of a product.
"We don't think people who buy organic food are so much concerned about EU origins - as that it was produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards, and is free from GM and harmful additives," said Molly Conisbee, Soil Association director of communications and campaigns.
The new EU rules also set out conditions for organic aquaculture production of fish, shellfish and seaweed. These specify that biodiversity should be respected, and do not allow the use of induced spawning by artificial hormones.