Is it really organic food? Here’s how to tell

India Organic LogoIndian consumers are increasingly turning to organic food, but recent reports suggest that most of what is sold as organic is fake. While it is possible for an unscrupulous food producer to falsely label food as “organic”, true organic food must meet certain requirements specified by the government and be certified. Consumers can protect themselves and their families by knowing about the certification process and what to look for.

India is ranked 10th in the world for the amount of land under organic certification, although only 15% of that is cultivable. The success of organic farming and organic food consumption depends on genuine products reaching the consumer.

The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), an initiative of the Government of India, provides the standards for certifying of organic products in India. The NPOP is overseen by Agricultural and Processed Foods Developmental Authority (APEDA, which regulates and promotes the export of agricultural products. Other than food products, NPOP’s certification covers other products like organic cotton fiber as well. The NPOP is a rigorous programme that is recognized by European and American organic certification authorities as being equivalent to their standards..

For a farm or the products of a brand to be certified as organic, the farmer or owner would have to:

1. Ensure that all the prerequisites for organic certification are satisfied. For example, land under organic cultivation would need to have been free from any chemical usage for at least 3 years before the time of application.

2. Register with one of the agencies that are authorized to carry out the organic certification under NPOP.

3. Pay all required fees and make arrangements for site inspection.

4. Comply with all required standards and be prepared for repeated inspections, usually annual ones.

Only food that has been certified as organic is permitted to display the India Organic logo.

Only food that has been certified as organic is permitted to display the India Organic logo.

Food that has been inspected and certified as organic can display the NPOP the logo to indicate its status. Since the NPOP certification means that the product can also be exported to the US or the EU, often the packaging will display logos for those regions as well. In addition, certified organic produce should mention which agency did the certification.

The next time you feel the need to check about organic certification of a particular product or farm, you know exactly what details to look for! This is the 2nd article in our “Organic Awareness” series. Tell us what you think about it. Do like us on Facebook to get notified of other articles like this one!

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