Verify the origin of strawberries before buying


<p>The operators involved in the selling and distribution chain are responsible for ensuring that the information about the country of origin of the strawberries is forwarded from the farm all the way to the consumer. Consumers are advised to only buy strawberries from sales locations that clearly indicate the country of origin on the sales sign, or on the sales-packages or cartons.</p>

The country of origin, the name of the packager and the quality class must be clearly indicated on the strawberry package. The operator shall for control purposes store the document accompanying the lot of berries, such as the invoice, dispatch note or receipt, which presents information on the country of origin and quality class of the lot as well as on the size of the lot.

The purpose of the labelling requirements and accompanying documents is to ensure that the information about the origin of the berries is forwarded unchanged to the consumer. The forwarding of valid information is the responsibility of every seller, buyer and distributor involved in the sales and distribution chain.

Sign required where strawberries are sold in open sales-packages
When buying strawberries pre-packaged in sales-packages, you should verify that a sign indicating the country of origin and the quality class of the berries is posted in the selling location of berries sold in open sales-packages. A Finnish flag standing on the sales counter is not adequate indication of the country of origin, but it has to be clearly shown in writing as the name of the country. The country of origin and the quality class must be clearly indicated on a sign also for strawberries sold unpacked.

Labelling required on closed sales-packages
If the strawberries are packaged in sales-packages closed with a lid, the sales-packages must bear information on the country of origin, the packager and the quality class. Consumers buying strawberries in larger lots should verify that the boxes clearly indicate the country of origin and the quality class as well as the name and address of the packager. The amount of the berries packaged in the sales-packages should also be indicated (e.g. 250 g, 500 g, 2 kg or 5 kg).

Buy quality
Strawberries are in most cases sold as class I berries. In order to meet the requirements defined for class I, the strawberries must be of good quality and free from soil. All strawberries sold to consumers must be fresh, whole and clean. Even class II strawberries may not be deteriorated, rotten, mouldy or dirty.

Strawberries retain their quality better if they are picked in the farm directly into the sales-packages in which they are sold, compared with berries poured onto the sales counter and then scooped into a plastic bag for the customer. Evira recommends also for reasons of preventing possible irregularities that berries not be sold unpacked off the counter but be pre-packaged in sales-packages.

How to best verify the origin
The consumer should verify before making the purchasing decision that the name of and the contact information for the holder of the sales location are clearly shown in the sales location. The operator selling the berries must be able to tell the name of the packager of the strawberries. Strawberries grown in Finland are packaged directly into sales-packages in the farm, so the packager is usually the farmer and the address indicates the farm where the strawberries 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 berries are bought directly from the farm or actually picked by the buyer, there can hardly be any doubt about the origin of the strawberries. Contact information for Finnish farms that sell directly to consumers can be found on the Internet using search words “suoramyynti + mansikka”.

Market vendors who sell their products all round the year usually comply with the labelling requirements and require appropriate labelling from the suppliers. Municipal food control authorities control vendors in market places and other outdoor selling locations.

The origin labelling and the quality of fruit and vegetables are controlled by the inspectors of Evira and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY), who will make inspections in market places and retail stores also this summer.

For more information, please contact:
Niina Matilainen, Senior Officer, Evira, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 25045


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