Organic producers questioned

Related tags Organic food

Production inspections carried out on organic manufacturers in
Finland last year revealed that some were using conventionally
produced sugar in their products. More worryingly, many companies
have not installed adequate tracing systems.

Production inspections carried out on organic producers in Finland last year detected a number of non-conformities with respect to spices or carriers that promote the dispersion of spices.

In some isolated cases conventionally produced sugar had beenused. The exemption for the use of conventionally produced sugar expired last year, but some of the smaller processors were not aware of this.

In addition, the National Food Agency of Finland (NFA) found that some enterprises not covered by organic control were found to be marketing their products as organic. These enterprises were either obliged to remove the organic labelling from their products or register under organic control.

The NFA also reported that compliance with record keeping and in-house control regulations were not up to scratch. Indeed, most of the admonitions issued as a result of control activities concerned this aspect of their operation.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed, with traceability legislation coming into force in January 2005. The NFA found that many organic manufacturers still consider it a sign of mistrust to request a separate warranty for every batch of raw materials, and often did not request one, particularly from suppliers they know.

In some events where the in-house control plan and records were almost non-existent, temporary prohibitions on the use of organic labelling were issued.

Simon Lawson, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) account manager with systems integrator Capula, is keen to raise awareness of the issue as he believes some companies will be going into 2005 unprepared for the new legislative requirements.

"I think that a lot of food and beverage manufacturers will have a rude awakening in the New Year,"​ said Lawson. "Traceability will more than effectively be enforced by the public and supermarkets, and they'll find that system integrators will be in short supply."

It is therefore in organic producers' long-term interests to invest in systems that can trace products from start to finish. The cost of compensation or a product recall means that the cost of installing a proper record system is less of a factor than it ever was.

Organic products in Finland were also analysed for genetically manipulatedorganisms (GMOs) and pesticide residues. No GMOs were found in theanalysed corn and soy products. In one sample, residues of chlormequat that is used as a plant growth regulator were detected. Further studies did not indicate the use of pesticides, however.

In addition, it was found that the vast majority of raw materials used in products labelled as organic were indeed of organic origin.

The control of organic production and import in Finland covers a total of 475 enterprises, most of which concentrate on cereals: farm baking, mills, bakeries as well as storage, handling and export of grain.

However in recent years, organic milk has become the largest individual organic product. Organic meat and meat products still play a more modest role. Restaurants and the kitchens of pre-school nurseries, in particular, have discovered organic raw materials.

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