Anyone looking for organic food when shopping in the EU often has to wade through a jungle of labels and quality designations around organic or ecological products without knowing exactly what is behind them. In order to create clarity for the consumer and uniformity in the European food market for organic products, the EU introduced its own eco-label in July 2010.
THE EU ECO-LABEL
The leaf, made up of white stars on a green background, is intended to identify food products that have been produced in accordance with EU eco-regulations. It is hoped that at some point a multitude of different eco-labels will disappear and only the EU label will be valid.
But this is not to be expected at the moment. The quality labels of producer associations and retail chains are today not only successful brands, but often also represent more organic products.
ECO AND ORGANIC: PROTECTED TERMS
The good news for all consumers is that where it says “eco” on the label, there is also “eco” inside. The term is protected by the EC Organic Regulation, just like “Bio”, “biologically” or “ecologically”, and can only be used if the product consists of 95% organic ingredients.
Food from “controlled cultivation”, on the other hand, does not automatically comply with the EC ecological regulation. The same applies to misleading terms such as “naturally fertilized”, “environmentally friendly” or “untreated”.
VARIETY OF ORGANIC SEALS
Since the names alone do not always give an indication of the organic nature of the products, consumers should pay attention to the printed quality marks. There are producer association labels and many organic supermarket private labels.
If the associations can be trusted that the food comes exclusively from their members, the origin of the ingredients of products with an organic label can no longer be traced without doubt. Nevertheless, it is guaranteed that these products have been produced at least according to the EU organic guidelines.
STRICT CONTROLS ON ORGANIC PRODUCTS
For producer associations and retail chains, their seals have become an economic asset that enjoys the confidence of consumers. In order not to damage the brands and the association, much stricter controls are also carried out. In addition to the legally prescribed controls, the associations also check the quality of their products within the association.
This also helps to build confidence, so it can be assumed that in the future different logos will continue to appear on products in addition to the EU organic label.
ORIGIN OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS
At least the origin of food ingredients is becoming a little more transparent. With the introduction of the new EU logo, labeling will now be mandatory, providing information on whether a product comes entirely, partially or not at all from the EU. The country of origin can only be mentioned if all ingredients come from one country.
But this is precisely what the consumer should look out for. Because organic yogurt with milk imported from France and fruit imported from Spain is not really organic, even with species-appropriate breeding and unsprayed fruit. In addition, the food loses a considerable amount of its quality during long transports and when it is harvested at maturity.