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Fines for labeled organic foods incorrectly to be imposed from August 1


Suppliers of farm produce that is incorrectly labeled as organic will be subject to fines ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$300,000 beginning Aug. 1, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said on July 6.

On Jan. 31, the Council implemented new regulations on organic farm produce and processed agricultural products, which stipulate that only certified goods should be labeled as organic, but it allowed a grace period so that local manufacturers and retailers could change their product labeling.

As of July 3, some 467 of 520 randomly selected products had been inspected and tested under the new regulations. Among the 467 products, 9 tested positive for pesticide residues and 2 for other chemical residues -- a 2.4 percent reject rate.

Suppliers of farm produce that fail to pass the COA's inspection will be slapped with fines ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

Some 401 of 461 products inspected before Jan. 31 and marketed as organic items failed to meet the required standards -- an 87 percent reject rate.

Under Article 27 of the Agricultural Products Certification Act., however, producers who failed to meet the standards could change their product labeling within the grace period.

The agency also inspected 142 products produced after Jan. 31and sold locally as "organic" items, 15 of which, or 10.6 percent, failed to meet the required standard.

According to the COA, the high reject rate was mainly because many locally produced items had not been certified and some imported goods had not been screened before being labeled as organic.

From Aug. 1, suppliers of products that fail to meet organic and standards or are not properly labeled will fined NT$30,000 to NT$300,000.

The COA stressed that those who fail to correctly label their farm produce and processed products will face fines.

Since the implementation of the new regulations, nine certification companies have been accredited to certify organic farm produce and processed agricultural items.

Meanwhile, the Council has also authorized imports of certified organic farm produce and processed agricultural goods from 18 countries and areas, including Britain, France, the United States, Spain and Sweden.

In addition, the COA has urged the public to buy agriculture products that carry the "CAS" (Certified Agricultural Standards) logo, so as to protect the consumers' health and encourage legitimate organic products farmers and producers to further develop the organic agricultural industry.