The buyer has the right to know the origin of strawberries
The designation of origin is marked on foodstuffs to enable buyers to obtain adequate and correct information on their purchases. The country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables must always be indicated. This helps ensure the quality and safety of foodstuffs. Consumers should buy strawberries only from a sales stand which clearly indicates the berries’ country of origin on sales signs, packages or boxes.
The country of origin, packager and quality class must be clearly indicated on strawberry packaging. The purpose of the labelling requirements and accompanying documents is to ensure that information on the origin of the berries is forwarded unchanged to the consumer. The forwarding of valid information is the responsibility of every buyer, seller and distributor in the sales and distribution chain.
A sign is required where strawberries are sold in open sales packages
A Finnish flag on the sales counter is not an adequate indicator of the country of origin: the entire name of the country must be clearly indicated in writing. When buying strawberries in pre-packaged open boxes, you should verify that a sign indicating the berries’ country of origin and quality class is posted at the sales stand. A sign indicating the country of origin and quality class of strawberries sold unpacked must also be displayed.
Labelling is required on lidded packages
If the strawberries are sold in lidded packages, the country of origin, packager and quality class must be indicated on the packages. Consumers buying strawberries in larger amounts should verify that the packing boxes clearly indicate the berries’ country of origin and quality class, and the name and address of the packager. In addition, each package must be labelled with the quantity of the berries (e.g. 250 g, 500 g, 2 kg or 5 kg).
In most cases, strawberries are sold as Class I berries. Strawberries meeting Class I requirements must be of high quality and free of soil. All strawberries sold must be fresh, whole and clean. No spoiled, rotten, mouldy or soiled strawberries are allowed, even in Class II.
Strawberries retain their quality better if, at the farm, they are placed directly into the packages in which they are sold, compared to unpacked berries poured onto the sales counter and then scooped into a plastic bag for the customer. Also for reasons of preventing possible irregularities, Evira recommends that berries are sold pre-packaged rather than poured on the counter.
How best to verify the origin
Before making the purchasing decision, the consumer should verify that the name and contact information of the sales stand holder are clearly indicated on-site. The seller should be able to identify the packager of the strawberries he or she sells. Strawberries grown in Finland are pre-packaged on the farm. This means that the packager is generally the farmer and the address on the package indicates where the berries were grown.
If you want to be absolutely certain that the strawberries you buy are Finnish, you should buy them from a farmer you know. When strawberries are bought directly from the farm or actually picked by the buyer, there can hardly be any doubt about the origin of the berries. Contact information for Finnish farms that sell directly to consumers can be found on the internet using the search words “suoramyynti + mansikka”.
Food business operators who sell their products year-round, are usually apt to comply with the labelling requirements and require appropriate labelling from their suppliers.
Food business operators in market places and other outdoor selling locations are controlled by municipal food control authorities who also control the information provided about the products. The origin labelling and quality of fruits and vegetables are controlled by the inspectors of Evira and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY).