Written Q&A to EU Commission – Controls on organic food

Question for written answer E-011546/12 to the Commission
Sir Graham Watson (ALDE)
(18 December 2012)

Subject: Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008

The United Kingdom Government is currently consulting on its implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008, which set out rules on organic productions and certification. The UK appears to have narrowly interpreted Article 34(1) and Article 28(4) of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, asserting that, under the principle of mutual recognition, additional checks by a control body in the UK on products with certifications that were undertaken by a control body in another Member State would not be allowed.
1. Can the Commission confirm whether this assessment is correct?
2. Do the regulations allow control bodies to conduct random tests on products already certified by other control bodies? If so, can such tests include investigations as to the organic provenance of the products, or are they limited to other factors such as food safety, as suggested by the UK Government?

Joint answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission
(19 February 2013)

According to Article 27(3) of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 (1), the nature and frequency of controls shall be determined on the basis of an assessment of the risk of occurrence of irregularities and infringements. All operators, with the exception of wholesalers dealing only with pre-packaged goods and operators selling to the final consumer or user, are subject to at least an annual verification of compliance. Each control body, according to the assessment of the risk and subject to the requirement for an annual verification of compliance as described above, will need — on a case-by-case approach — to decide on the nature and frequency of controls of its operators.

Controls may include organic products found with an operator and eventually certified by other control bodies, independently if these bodies are approved in the same or in a different Member State. However, in accordance with Article 34 (2), control bodies may not prohibit or restrict the marketing of organic products controlled by another control body located in another Member State on grounds relating to the method of production, to the labelling or to the presentation of that method in so far as those products meet the requirements of this regulation. In particular no additional controls or financial burdens in addition to those foreseen in Title V of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 may be imposed.

According to Article 92 of Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 (3), a Member State must inform the Commission and the Member State concerned of any irregularity or infringement affecting the organic status of organic products coming from another Member State.
A request for information to the UK competent authority on the application of the organic production control system will be sent by the Commission.

⋅1∙ Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC)

⋅2∙ Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.

⋅3∙ Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control.


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