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Also food supplements can be “bio”

The consumption of products claiming an organic origin has become a significant share of the revenue of the food and agriculture sector. However, obtaining the organic certification for foods is a long process, subject to several controls and regulated by Italian and European regulations.

Regulation (EU) 2018/848

Regulation (EU) 2018/848 is the community reference regulation regarding organic production and organic products labelling. This is a new norm, repealing the norms previously in force (Regulation (EC) no. 834/2007), and includes interesting novelties.

The first is certainly its widened scope. In fact, along with (processed and unprocessed) agricultural products and feed, annex I of the new regulation also lists other products that can be defined as of organic production, also including plant-based traditional herbal preparations. This regulation still includes processed agricultural products for use as food, a category that opens the doors to the organic certification of food supplements, complying with specific conditions.

To obtain such certification, a notification is to be submitted, including all the required documentation, to a Competent authority, or to a control body that this may have appointed and authorised, that will perform the required controls and then release a certificate.

How to obtain organic certification

Which are the requirements to obtain such certification? Organic products are those plant and animal products whose production respects the natural life cycle of these animals and plants, with an impact reduced to the minimum in order to protect biodiversity. This means no genetically modified organisms, no antibiotics, no pesticides; only natural fertilisers are allowed (such as manure or compost), with limited use of chemically synthesised fertilisers. Moreover, only parasite treatments with animal, herbal or mineral origin can be used, to be selected among those authorised, also availing oneself of insects that can neutralised parasites. To this aim, cultures are subject to crop rotation and the soil is thermally isolated with grass or hay to prevent weeds from growing.

This kind of agriculture is very beneficial for the environment: it protects the soil, the air and the waters from contaminations deriving from the use of chemicals, and contributes to preserve biodiversity, also because it limits the amounts produced.

Based on this regulation, a food supplement can obtain the organic certification if it is made of animal or herbal ingredients produced according to the criteria established by the Regulation. Moreover, the Operators should ensure that food supplements are collected, packaged, transported and stored in compliance with the rules established in Annex III of Regulation (EU) 2018/848. Food supplements, in addition to a balanced diet and a healthy life style, can contribute to “regulate” some functions of our organism, that are deficient under particular circumstances. Their organic certification represents an additional factor contributing to the perception of quality by consumers.

The labeling of organic food

Of course, the Regulation also defines the rules that apply to the labelling of these products and, as for foods in general, these rules are specific and rather strict. Terms such as ‘organic’, ‘bio’ and ‘eco’, can be used for labelling and advertising of these products only if they comply with the Regulation. On the packaging, the organic production logo of the European Union can be used, along with a code formed by the ISO code for the country where the controls take place; a three-letter term (‘bio’, ‘org’ and the like) establishing a link with organic production; and a three-digit number, assigned by each Member State’s competent authority to the delegated control authorities or control bodies, or by the Commission to the delegated control authorities or control bodies or to the competent authorities of third countries recognised by the Commission.

Many food supplements already have the organic production logo reported on their labels. A further assurance of the beneficial effects of food supplements on our health and in general on our wellness.

Written by: Maria Pia Felici

Foto di Dave LZ da Pixabay