In response to accusations by the Consumers’ Foundation that 92 percent of organic products on the market fail to comply with the Agricultural Production and Certification Act (APCA 農產品生產及驗證管理法), the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said the products sampled by the foundation may have been manufactured before the Act came into force.
“The Agricultural Production and Certification Act was passed by the legislature and implemented in 2007,” Agriculture and Food Agency Director-General Chen Wen-tei (陳文德) said.
“The transition period [during which regulations were formulated and certification mechanisms in other countries were assessed] was two years and the Act was enacted on Jan. 31 this year,” Chen said.
As such, the foundation may have sampled products that were produced before that date, in which case the law does not apply, he said.
For a product to bear COA organic certification, manufacturers must receive certification by any of the seven certification agencies in the country, Chen said, adding that applications must nevertheless receive final approval by the agency.
Chen said that since the enactment of the APCA, the agency’s inspections had put special emphasis on quality and the labeling of organic products.
“This year, we plan to randomly sample 1,000 products on the market for chemical residue. If a product fails chemical analysis, the manufacturer will be asked to recall the products and improve the quality within a given period of time,” he said.
Violators would see their organic certification temporarily suspended, he said.
As for organic labels, Chen said that all products made after Jan. 31 must comply with APCA standards.
“Products made before that date have until Aug. 1 to comply,” he said. “This will provide a buffer period for manufacturers to exhaust old packaging.”