Control - organic farming
Just like conventional products, organic products must comply with the provisions applicable under food and feed law. These provisions include mechanisms for controlling and inspecting the products.
If products are to be sold as organic products, they must be subjected to the inspection scheme and procedure under EU organic farming legislation. EU organic farming legislation permits Member States to decide whether the inspection procedure should be carried out by government agencies alone or via a state-supervised private system. Germany opted for the latter.
Control system in Germany
Due to Germany’s federal structure, 15 supervisory authorities in the Länder and city-states are responsible for the 17 approved inspection bodies that are currently operating in the market.
The private inspection bodies carry out on-the-spot controls to check whether companies comply with EU organic farming legislation. An inspection agreement is concluded between the company or business that is subject to inspection and the inspection body. Companies or businesses thus undertake to adhere to EU organic farming legislation and agree to the inspection body’s standard inspection scheme. The inspection body controls agricultural holdings as well as processors and importers at least once a year and more frequently, if necessary. The inspected holdings must bear the costs of inspection. The inspection is primarily a procedural inspection supplemented by elements of final product inspection in special cases. Controls are conducted using random samples taken on a risk-oriented basis; where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion, product samples or soil or plant samples are also taken and residue analyses carried out.
Articles 63 to 92 of Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 set out the minimum inspection requirements for agricultural holdings, processors, stock keepers, distributors and importers.
Accordingly, producers and processors must specify precisely what areas, buildings and facilities are used in organic production. Holdings are obliged to precisely record and list all inputs and products entering the holdings at all stages of processing. Everything sold by the farm or holding must be recorded in their books: what was sold, how much of it was sold and to whom. This guarantees that organic products can be traced back to the producer.
National accreditation of inspection bodies
The organic market in Germany has grown particularly strongly for many years. With this in mind, it needs to be ensured that the organic farming inspection system always remains fully functional and in line with the legislation, providing sound inspections and guaranteeing a high level of consumer protection and fair competition between the inspection bodies. The BMEL therefore adopted the Ordinance on the Accreditation of Inspection Bodies pursuant to the Act Concerning Organic Farming (ÖLG-Kontrollstellen-Zulassungsverordnung) on 12 May 2012. This provides a nationally harmonised legal basis for accrediting private inspection bodies, on a federally harmonised legal basis, incorporating the detailed criteria that had already been established.