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Consider Organic Rules in Food Information Regulations

Organic food manufacturers have been warned that product labels changed to meet new regulations must be checked with their organic control body before going into print.

Leading certifier, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), has flagged up the issue after discovering that some packaging which had been redesigned to meet the new Food Information Regulation (FIR) was being altered in such as way as to breach organic rules.

Ruth Lamb

Ruth Lamb
OF&G processor certification officer

Processing specialists at OF&G, which does not require the use of its logo on labels, are concerned that too many organic food processors will be caught out by the assumption that changes do not need to be checked by their organic control body.

The FIR comes into force on December 13. It is the biggest change to food labelling rules for a number of years and will require alterations to almost all packaging.

OF&G processor certification officer, Ruth Lamb, explained: "Everyone is working hard to ensure they meet the new FIR requirements but I think that because they are not related directly to the organic regulation they often come to the conclusion that control bodies do not need to be involved.

"However, we are finding that design houses can change an aspect of the label that they consider insignificant, for example amending the mandatory EU organic logo dimensions or amending the specific wording in the ingredients panel, which could then put the product in breach of the law relating to organic products. I would stress that where space is an issue, as it usually is, we don’t require the use of the OF&G logo on products we certify, which can be helpful.

"What we want to avoid by flagging this up now is any expensive mistakes with new labels going into production in large quantities. Another risk is that the design houses and specialist printers will become very busy as this deadline approaches and there may not be time for them to rectify mistakes discovered at the 11th hour. This can all be avoided by seeking timely feedback from your organic control body on any changes that are being made."

Organic Farmers & Growers has pledged to speed FIR-related enquiries through its system wherever possible but has cautioned that it may itself face increased demand as the implementation date of the new regulation nears.

With its national headquarters in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Organic Farmers & Growers inspects and certifies organic food, farming, catering, storage, transport and import for businesses across the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It was the first body approved by the government to carry out this work, more than 20 years ago.

Organic Farmers & Growers

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