Organic is still organic
The authorities inspect every organic farm and business in Finland at least once a year. Only controlled produce may be marketed as organic. Every organic operator must have an organic production plan, the implementation of which fulfils the criteria of organic production.
The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira decides on the focal points of organic control each year. Every batch of produce must be traceable to specific fields on farms and production years. In 2013, checks on organic farms were targeted particularly on the quantities of products in stock, so that fraud concerning their source could be prevented.
In plant production, conventional seed was used without permission, and there were also shortcomings in the recording of cultivation events and observing crop rotation. Usually, the consequence was a written remark or request to take remedial action.
”Only less than four per cent of all organic producers were banned from selling their produce as organic,” says Senior Officer Sampsa Heinonen from Evira.
Homeopathic products rarely used
As for organic animal production, problems related to the feeding and outdoor exercise of animals were only found with a couple of per cent of the operators. Most of the remarks concerned the requisite record-keeping in livestock production.
If an organic animal is sick, a vet prescribes medication for it. The drug treatment must follow certain rules regarding withdrawal periods and the number of times the treatment is administered. In 2013, particular attention was paid to the marking of pigs that had been treated with drugs, for the purpose of monitoring the number of treatments. Fattening pigs treated with drugs were not always reliably marked, despite the availability of permanent marking methods.
“Homeopathic products were only used on four organic livestock farms. As the number of organic livestock farms totals more than 800, their use is very rare compared to Germany, for example,” says Senior Officer Merja Manninen from Evira.
Improvements needed in labelling of organic foods and animal feeds
As for organic foods and animal feeds, labelling and traceability were under special scrutiny. The problems resulting in requests for remedial action were related to the procurement of organic raw materials and the labelling on packaging. The traceability of organic foods functioned very well; the raw materials could be traced to farms. Only six operators were banned from selling foods as organic products.
Producers of organic feedstuffs were issued with remarks about the labelling of the feed and record-keeping related to the production and storage of feeds.
Organic production is controlled, as well as by Evira, by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, local authorities, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira, and Finnish Customs.
Senior Officer Sampsa Heinonen, t. +358 (0)50 575 1481 (plant production)
Senior Officer Merja Manninen, t. +358 (0)40 849 8325 (livestock)
Senior Officer Teija Lindén, t. +358 (0)50 365 2178 (foods)
Senior Officer Tiina O’Toole t. +358 (0)40-8279631 (animal feeds)