How do you know its Organic?October 22, 2020
In my previous article, I tried to differentiate between Natural and Organic foods. Now that we have established that organic is better, lets take this up a notch to identify, in the Indian context, what are the key indicators of an authentic, organic product, and how as a consumer you can find out more about a product’s claims of being organic.
The India Organic logo, launched by the Government of India, is granted only upon the compliance with National Standards for Organic Production (NSOP). The government has also accredited private bodies under NPOP (National Programme for Organic Production) to evaluate and certify producers or exporters with the logo under the guidelines laid out by the government. It is to be noted that a product can only be exported as an organic product with this logo if it is produced, processed, packed and labelled under the India Organic trademark issued by the National Accreditation Body, constituted under the NPOP.
At present, there are 28 Accredited Certification Bodies under NPOP and 562 Regional Councils under PGS-India who can provide such certification. NPOP and PGS (Participatory Gurantee Systems) for India can certify and make sure companies and producers comply with the set of standards laid out. Whereas the NPOP provides an India Organic logo, the PGS provides a PGS-India Organic logo after necessary certification.
To remove the confusion, the Government of India introduced a Jaivik Bharat Logo to differentiate between an organic and a non-organic product irrespective of whether it has been certified through PGS or NPOP. It is a unified logo.
Simply translating to ‘Organic India’, the logo is a symbol of authenticity and trust, a unified logo for Organic Foods as per the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India).
According to the FSSAI, “Organic foods are products of holistic agricultural practices focusing on bio-diversity, soil health, chemical free inputs etc. with an environmentally and socially responsible approach that have been produced in accordance with organic production standards.”
The consumer should look for a FSSAI logo with a license number and one of the aforementioned logos underneath it on the package to identify the product as organic.
Indian Organic Integrity Database
Available here: https://jaivikbharat.fssai.gov.in/
The portal helps consumers verify the authenticity of organic foods. Through this Portal, the consumers can access all information with respect to the producer, the certification system and the availability of certified organic products in specific markets along with the necessary information about organic food standards, certification processes, etc.
Here, the license validity and the certifying body of a specific company can be found out to make sure that companies aren’t using the logo without having the proper certification.
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Organic is used to certify products as 100% organic under strict rules and regulations.
According to their website, The National Organic Program (NOP) develops the rules & regulations for the production, handling, labelling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. This process, referred to as rulemaking, involves input from the National Organic Standards Board and the public. The NOP also maintains a Handbook that includes guidance, instructions, policy memos, and other documents that communicate the organic standards.
NPOP has equivalence with organic food regulations of European Union and Switzerland and a recognition agreement on conformity assessment with USDA, hence any certification from the two can be used.
I hope this article shed some light on the obscure world of organic certification in India. Now I can safely say that you have all the tools to make an informed decision.