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7. September 2020

Organic food: When is a food considered organic?

Organic on it means only organic in it? No. At least not completely. In fact, even those products whose list […]

Organic on it means only organic in it?

No. At least not completely. In fact, even those products whose list of ingredients is not entirely organic may be given an organic label. But the limit is high: at least 95% of the product must be organic . Of course, this does not apply to unprocessed food. It’s all or nothing here.

There are two exceptions: salt and water. Since it is difficult to create an organic origin here, salt and water are ignored in the ingredient list during organic testing. After all, it is not something that can be grown or produced by agricultural products.

What is nevertheless possible with non-organic products is to include the term “organic” in the list of ingredients. Because if individual ingredients are of organic origin, they may be labelled as such. Very important: The product name itself must not be used in this context.

Good to know: puns on “organic” – if the product is not one – are seen as an attempt to deceive. And are therefore not allowed. So avoid possible misinterpretations – otherwise this can be expensive for you.

Of course it is not always clear

If it says “organic” or “eco”, the consumer knows what to expect: at least 95% organic inside. But over time, other names have crept in – and not all of them have the same meaning.

Since 1993, the following terms have been protected: “organic”, “bio”, “biologisch”, “ökologisch” and “aus kontrolliert ökologischem/biologischer Anbau”. Those who use them are only allowed to do so in relation to the EU organic regulation.

Labels such as “natural”, “alternative” or “from controlled cultivation”, on the other hand, do not guarantee organic quality. These are increasingly appearing on conventional foods to entice customers. But what is really behind it – the manufacturer decides for himself. So here he doesn’t have to follow any guidelines. Subtle but important differences!

The EU Organic Regulation

The EU organic regulation applies throughout Europe and includes a uniform regulation for the labelling of organic food. Only if all requirements are met, the seal is allowed: a leaf formed of stars on a green background. In addition to the EU organic seal, there is also the German organic seal. The use of this mark is voluntary and manufacturers like to use it. But the message is the same: a guarantee of the requirements of the EU organic regulation.

It goes without saying that anyone who prints the organic label on their products declares in a legally binding manner that they meet all the requirements.

In addition to the EU organic regulation, there are also labels of the cultivation associations in Germany. These directives have been in existence longer than the Regulation. And some of them are stricter in their regulations. For manufacturers, this is an attractive way of labelling particularly sustainable and, for example, animal-friendly circumstances. However, the criteria of the associations are not uniformly regulated. Therefore, a little research is required to find the desired framework and add an extra mark to one’s product.

Own private labels for organic food

Private labels offer an additional way to make your own organic products stand out. This method is already used in many supermarkets, discount stores and health food stores. This makes it even easier for consumers to find the organic food they want.

However, if the conditions correspond to certain cultivation associations, it is advantageous, especially for the consumer, to identify them with a mark. Otherwise, the latter may not be able to identify which guidelines are being followed. In particular, if some consumers are oriented towards certain cultivation associations, this may draw their attention to the private labels.