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Organic food labelling deadline approaches

03 April 2012

The deadline for all organic food produced in the UK to carry a legally required EU logo is rapidly approaching, a leading organic body has warned the industry

A new Europe-wide symbol for certified organic produce was introduced in July 2010, though a transitional period has been allowed for it to be included on packaging.

However, from the end of June this year the use of the EU logo, along with its associated wording, will be demanded by law.

Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), which inspects and certifies organic food and farming across the UK, is highlighting the risks producers and processors face if they fail to ensure all of their packaging meets the requirements.

OF&G Certification and Compliance Manager, Steve Clarkson, said: “We have been pushing this message out to our licensees regularly now and ensuring all new labels we check and approve are compliant. But, based on the feedback we are getting from the industry generally, we have concerns that the approaching deadline hasn’t reached the ears of everyone who needs to know. There has been no central alert or notification to all organic operators from the EU or Defra, but that doesn’t provide a defence for anyone who falls foul of the regulation.

“Quite simply, from the first day of July this year, a product that has been pre-packaged in an EU member state and which does not carry the correct EU symbol and wording will be breaking the law and, as this is not an overnight change but one that has enjoyed a two-year transition, there will be few, if any, legitimate excuses available.”

OF&G has produced a comprehensive guide to the requirements of the labelling regulation, which is available for download (ofng.me/eu) by any organic operators, regardless of their who their certifier is, and is calling on all businesses dealing in pre-packaged organic food to check they comply with the rules.

Mr Clarkson added: “It is in no-one’s interests for UK businesses to be caught out by this and they should act now if they are unsure. Given the lead times often required to change packaging design, arrange print runs and use up old stock, it could be that the July deadline will be upon them before they know it.”


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