Sara Kuijer, Skal, the Netherlands:

"New organics regulation does permit selling of loose organic produce"

Suzanne van der Pijll recently wrote an article about 'organics returning to plastic'. She is from Schuttelaar & Partners, which is a Dutch communication consultancy specialized in health and sustainability. In response, Sara Kuijer writes the following on behalf of Skal Biocontrole. This is an independent organization that monitors the organic chain in the Netherlands.

"The article says, according to be organics regulations, unpackaged products aren't allowed. That's simply not correct. According to the current and the new organic regulation it's indeed allowed to sell organic products unpackaged. Nowhere in the legislation does it state that this isn't allowed. It is true, however, that as of this year, unpackaged product sales are subject to certification."

"This is the sales outlets'  obligation. This only applies to the sale of unpackaged products and products handled at the point of sale. If only pre-packaged products are sold, this certification isn't needed. So, it's up to the (chain) to decide whether or not to pre-package these products."

"The article also refers to 'fully packaged'. I'm not sure where this term originated. But the legal term is 'pre-packaged foodstuff' (see EC 1169/2011). According to this definition, a pre-packaged food item doesn't need to be entirely packaged. Something like a band can easily meet this definition and the general labeling requirements."

"Most innovative solutions, such as laser printing, can ensure that you can separate organic and conventional products. Consumers can, therefore, recognize these items. Laser printing isn't seen as a form of packaging. However, it's an excellent way to distinguish organic products without packaging them (e.g., in plastic)."

"The organic regulation revolves around reliability. Can shoppers be sure what they're buying is actually organic? That's why the EU regulation was created. It focuses on the chain. Each link has a responsibility concerning its own activities and monitoring deliveries and suppliers. Until now, the last link was excluded from Skal's supervision. The certification requirement for points of sale means that, from now, the entire chain will be monitored."

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