May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018
Over the last two decades, global health awareness has been on a constant rise. With it, the use of fresh, organic, all-natural, Superfoods, whole foods and similar other foods has also increased. Walk down any aisle of a supermarket, and you will see products with these terms flashing at you from all directions. With so many words buzzing around, it is important to be able to separate fact from fiction, understand what each of these terms means and make a conscious and informed purchase decision.
In this article, we are going to delve deeper into one of the most important and widely used term – organic foods.
What are Organic Products?
Organic products are products of the holistic agricultural system that pays close attention to nature – a system that is environmental, social and economically sustainable. This system avoids the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and the livestock (meat or poultry) are raised without the use of drugs, hormones or synthetic chemicals. Products grown using organic farming are known to have higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants as well as lower levels of pesticide residues and heavy metals.
About Organic Certification and Regulating bodies in India
There are two acceptable ways of obtaining organic certification in India – Third party & PGS – Participatory Guarantee System.
Third Party: The NPOP (National Program for Organic Production) and its regulatory body APEDA (Agricultural and processed food products export development authority) have laid down a set of standards for production and accreditation of organic products. These standards have been identified by the European Commission and the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) as equivalent to their country standards.
In the third-party certification system, companies can get the organic certification issued by testing centers, which are accredited by APEDA under the NPOP programme. Products labelled by this system carry the India organic Logo.
PGS: The PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System of India) is a quality assurance initiative which is locally relevant, emphasizes the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers, and operates outside the frame of third-party certification. National Centre of Organic Farming is the custodian of data, defines policies and guidelines and undertake surveillance through field monitoring and product testing for residues.
Identifying genuine organic products
While the demand for organic products has been rising, a lot of companies have jumped in to capitalize on the demand resulting in a lot of confusion, misinformation, and clarity with respect to identifying genuine organic produce. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the organic labels and their significance better.
As per the NPOP standards, foods can be labelled ‘organic’ if at least 95% of its ingredients meet the necessary standards. Products that are certified organic should carry either of the following:
For Third party certified products:
If the product is certified under the NPOP programme, then the product must clearly have the following:
If the product is certified under the PGS – India programme, then the label must display the following:
Consumers should be wary of easily misleading terms. Many companies use lookalike labels and similar sounding or meaning words on the labels, for example natural, green, etc. Further, there is no regulation on the use of the word organic in brand names, – there could be a company that makes both organic and non-organic products, and indicates the same on the package as well. However, their brand name might have the word organic which tends to lend a wrong perception to buyers.
Benefits of Organic products
‘You are what you eat’ is one of the old saying that organic farmers, producers, and consumers swear by. How our food is grown and processed is believed to have a major impact not only on our health-mental, physical and emotional but also on the farmer’s health as well as on the environment. Few of the better-known benefits of organic foods are:
FSSAI and APEDA are also jointly launching Jaivik Bharat, where consumers can cross-check from companies selling organic products and also raise grievances if any. Jaivik Bharat also aims at unifying the organic certifications and making it more simple and transparent for both, the manufacturers and the consumers.