Organic foods – Important facts to know

Guest Post

In the late ’60s and ’70s, India was faced with a need to multiply its agricultural produce to sustain a rapidly growing population. The Green Revolution was the answer to India’s problems. The country started reaping rewards and the agricultural yield increased manifold.

🍃 Use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, despite yielding favourable results, pushed India far away from traditional farming practices.

🍃 These chemical-laden food products started posing a major health concern for India. Also, soil degradation and depletion of natural minerals and bio-life were a serious worry.

🍃 So, India made a shift, a shift in the right direction to organic farming. This is not new; this is, in fact, return to our origins.

What is Organic Food?

“Organic food is food grown through a system of farming that avoids the use of synthetic inputs (chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, etc.) and using sustainable production methods such as crop rotation, animal manures, bio-fertilizers, beneficial microbes, organic wastes etc. so as to keep the soil alive and promote biodiversity.”

Benefits of Organic Farming/Foods

Organic foods have more beneficial nutrients and antioxidants.

• People who have food allergies often find organic food palatable.

• Organic foods are fresher as they are often produced in farms closer to where it is sold.

• GMO-Free – they are not genetically modified or genetically engineered.

Organic Food Labelling – Role of FSSAI

People are cautious of buying organic foods as they are unsure if the product is indeed organic. Mis-labelling and fraud by Food Business Operators (FBO) can mark a product as organic when it is not genuinely so. Therefore, it becomes important to ensure that genuine labelling standards are being followed.
This is where FSSAI has a major role to play.

🍃 The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India is an autonomous body under Health ministry and is the food standards regulatory authority in India.

🍃 The FSSAI Food License ensures quality in manufacturing, packaging and the sale of food products in India. Any FBO involved in manufacturing, storing, distribution or sale of food is required to have FSSAI certification.

🍃 The FSSAI regulated organic food through the Food Safety and Standard (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017. The regulations mandate that the labelling on the packages should have accurate information about the organic status of the product.

🍃 No FBO is permitted to manufacture, sell or distribute organic products unless they the stipulations laid by the regulations and comply with the standards laid by the certifying agencies.

🍃Under this new regulation, two systems of certification are considered to have been recognised.

1) Participatory Guarantee System (PGS-India) – A single ingredient product meeting all objectives or a multi-ingredient product where 95% of the ingredients are organic are labelled as ‘PGS-Organic’.

2) National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) – A single ingredient product meeting all objectives are labelled ‘Organic’ and a multi-ingredient product where 95% of the ingredients are organic are labelled as ‘Certified-Organic’.
👉🏻Additionally, the FSSAI regulation has also mandated that the Jaivik Bharat logo be incorporated in labelling organic products. This is the Government’s assurance of a genuine organic product. Hence consumers who wish to buy organic products should look for the following on the package labels:

👉🏻 Jaivik Bharat logo – Government assurance.

👉🏻 FSSAI Food License number.

👉🏻 Either the NPOP Logo or the PGS-India logo whichever was certifying authority
Such measures can reduce fake labels and inappropriate markings on non-organic food products.

👉🏻 Further, the regulation also stipulates that the Organic products need to be displayed distinctive for other products.

FSSAI Licenses for Organic Products

👉🏻 Any FBO that is already licensed with FSSAI and who wish to venture into organic products should have FSSAI certificates endorsed for organic products. FBOs who wish to start a new organic product business requires certification under the NPOP or PGS, a prerequisite for acquiring an FSSAI Food License. Any FBO not complying to the safety and labelling standards are liable for penalties under various sections of the Food Safety and Standards act.

👉🏻With increasing consumer awareness about health and increasing amount of pesticides in food products, more people are willing to procure organic foods. With Sikkim declared as an Organic state, the Government of India is taking all measures to boost organic farming in India and enforce clear labelling of organic products.

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