Tue, Jul 07, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Organic produce labels must meet new standards

GRACE PERIOD ENDS A new law covering organic items took effect on Jan. 31 but manufacturers were given this month to complete all the necessary legal requirements

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Starting next month, agricultural producers will have to secure certification from authorized institutions before they can label their products as “organic,” the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

Violators could face penalties of up to NT$300,000, the council said.

Agriculture and Food Agency Director Chen Wen-duh (陳文德) said the agency would launch a comprehensive inspection of organic products sold on the market next month.

“Those who label their products ‘organic’ without proper certification to back it up will be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000 for violations,” Chen said.

Any domestic organic products must also show the certified agriculture standards trademark for organic produce and the certification serial number on the packaging, the official said.

Imported organic food should show the serial number of the documents proving it has secured approval from the council, the location where the organic food was produced and the name of the certifying institution.

Violators could face fines between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000.

A new law regulating the quality of organic products took effect on Jan. 31, but the council gave manufacturers a grace period to complete the necessary legal procedures before beginning to enforce the new regulations next month, Chen said.

The council has randomly sampled 520 organic products as well as products made using organic produce since the new regulation took effect, Chen said.

It had completed examination of 467 products as of Friday and 11 were found to have exceeded the standards for chemical residues.

The council also randomly checked the labeling of 603 organic food products. Of 460 products manufactured before Jan. 31, 401 did not have the correct labeling for organic products. Of 142 organic products made after Jan. 31, 15 did not follow the new labeling regulations.

The council recognizes the organic product certification systems of 18 countries, including the UK, France, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Chen said that produce from China must secure the council’s approval before entering Taiwan. Produce cannot be imported by simply being labeled it as “organic,” he said.

“We have banned the entry of 834 Chinese agricultural products,” Chen said.

“Take red beans for example. Even if Chinese red beans have certification from any of the 18 countries that we recognize, it cannot enter Taiwan because red beans are on the list of the banned Chinese produce,” Chen said.

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