The Council of Agriculture (COA) will continue to strengthen its inspections of organic food labeling and quality to protect consumers' rights, the agency announced Sept. 1 after the Consumers' Foundation released the results of its own survey on organic prodnets.
The COA said that it welcomed the nonprofit organization's supervision in improving the management of organic farm products.
A month before the announcement, on Aug. 1, the COA had already begun to step up inspections of organic products and its labeling, conducting random checks at more than 100 shops. Almost all of the items sold in these stores around the country were inspected.
Of the 2,439 products marketed as organic items and inspected before Aug. 31, 136 failed to meet the standards -- a 5.6% reject rate. The COA said information on the substandard items had been sent to local government agencies for further action bused on the related regalations.
In its survey, the Consumers' Foundation found that six out of 10 randomly selected stores were found to be selling a total of 16 fake organic products produced at home and abroad.
The Council followed up on the fake organic products discovered by the Consumers' Foundation and urged the six shop owners to immediately stop selling the items that failed to meet standard to protect their reputation.
The COA also stressed that it will strengthen labeling inspections and said that those selling fake organic products will face fines.
In addition, it will help shops create dedicated organic product sales counters to prevent consumer confusion.
The Council noted that domestic and imported agricultural products and processed agricultural products now have to undergo certification before being labeled and sold as "organic" in shops or online.
Certified organic agricultural produce or organic agricultural processed products shall be affixed with the organic agricultural product label in accordance with the law.
The COA advises consumers to look for the supplier certification number and the CAS stamp on the packaging of organic agricultural products to ensure that they are buying authentic organic goods.
As for imported organic products, consumers should look for a number certifying the imported product, the COA noted.
The Council also has urged consumers to buy produce carrying the "CAS" (Certified Agricultural Standards) logo to thsure the produd quality so as to encourage legitimate organic producers to further develop Taiwan’s organic agricultural industry.