Organic Product Standards in India
People are wary to purchase organic food due to lack of confidence about its genuineness. The problem of fraud and mis-labelling occurs when someone (producer, marketer, agency) marks a product as organic while it contains non-organic ingredients or where the organic production standards are not adhered to in the production process. Therefore, it becomes important to check if the food labelled as “organic” is genuinely organic. Certification of Organic Foods assures that they comply with the set standards laid out. To protect consumers, Government of India has established organisation, legislations & rules to govern the quality, authenticity & standard of organic food products in India.
Which legislation regulates the Organic Food in India?
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has the mandate to regulate manufacture, distribute, sell or import “organic foods” as per the provisions laid under Section 22 of the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.
Additionally, Organic foods are regulated by Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 notified under the provisions of the Act.
Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017: The Key Features:
- All foods offered or promoted for sale as ‘Organic Food’ to comply with any of the requirements of:
- National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)
- Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India).
- Traceability shall be established up to the producer level as applicable under system mentioned above.
- Direct sales of Organic Food by the small original producer or producer organisation to the end consumer exempt from verification of compliance.
- All the Organic Food shall comply to the Labeling requirements as per Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Organic Food’ Regulations, 2011 along with NPOP or PGS India requirements.
- Organic Food Label to have a certification mark of PGS-India or NPOP along with FSSAI Logo with License No.
- Organic Foods to comply with Product standards and limits of Contaminants as the prescribed in Food Safety and Standards Regulations.
- Retailers to display organic foods distinguishable from conventional foods.
- Provision for bilateral or multilateral equivalence agreements based on NPOP for imports.
Which systems of certification are recognized in the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017?
As mentioned above, the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 recognises the already established two systems of certification:
- Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) implemented by Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) implemented by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and National
Which food products can be labelled as ‘Organic ‘?
- Under NPOP system:
- In case of single ingredient product where all requirements been met as per the specified standards can be labelled as ‘Organic’.
- In case of multi ingredient product where min. 95% of ingredients are of certified origin, can be labelled as ‘Certified Organic’.
- Under PGS-India system:
- In case of single ingredient product where all requirements have been met, may be labelled as ‘PGS- Organic’.
- In case of multi ingredient product where min. 95% of ingredients are organic, it may be labelled as ‘PGS- Organic’.
Who is responsible for certifying Organic Food?
The Accredited Certification Bodies in case of NPOP and Local Group in case of PGS-India are responsible for certifying the Organic Food.
Who is exempted from the need of verification of compliance?
Organic food which is marketed through direct sales to the end consumer by the small original producer or producer organisation is exempted from the provisions of the certification. Small original producer or producer organisation is the one whose annual turnover is not exceeding Rs 12 Lakhs per annum.
Besides Food Safety parameters, the organic foods should comply with the requirements of various quality parameters prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
Rules w.r.t to Imported Organic Food
Organic Food is not required to be re-certified on import to India if there is bilateral or multilateral agreement based on the equivalence of standards as per National Programme for Organic Production. All organic food consignments to be accompanied by a Transaction Certificate issued by an Accredited Certification Body.