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Organic rules to cover storage and warehousing

Date Published: 18/08/2005

Operators of commercial storage and warehouses are being urged to check whether they need to comply with new organic regulations.

Leading organic certification body, Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), has highlighted the change in the law, which came into force at the beginning of July.

The new EU regulations demand that operators who store organic produce must register with an organic certification body and arrange to be inspected annually.

OF&G would stress that is crucial for operators to check whether the regulation applies to them and, if so, to ensure they comply as soon as possible.

The move is aimed at strengthening the organic process from farm to plate, to ensure products are not contaminated or substituted along the way.

OF&G and other certification bodies had argued strongly that the regulation should apply only to bulk products, where it believed the risk of contamination was greater than for pre-packed produce, but this was not successful.

As a result the new rules potentially cover all warehouses, distribution centres and any premises that store organic produce, either packed or loose.

However, In the UK, Defra intends to apply the derogation that allows the exemption of operators who sell organic products directly to the final consumer, provided they do not “produce, prepare, store other than in connection with the point of sale, or import such products from a third country”.

OF&G Processor Certification Manager, Gabrielle Lanceley, said: “We believe this regulation adds even greater assurance for all involved in the organic food chain and for those who, ultimately, buy organic food.

“Although it goes further than we believe to be entirely practical, there’s no doubt it is a positive step forward.”

Organic Farmers and Growers has produced a Technical Leaflet explaining the regulation in greater detail and has vowed to carry out the necessary inspections for licensees as quickly as possible.