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Minister Sargent says if purchasing an organic turkey, insist on proof of Organic Certification

Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today advised consumers buying organic turkeys for Christmas to insist on proof that they are paying for the real thing.

"You are going to pay more for an organic turkey," Minister Sargent said. "There are good reasons for that. These turkeys have to be raised under strict rules about housing density, free access to open spaces and special diets. Feed additives and veterinary medicines are also rigorously controlled. Because of these rules, genuine organic farmers have to charge more to break even."

Fortunately it is easy for consumers to make sure they are getting the real thing. Minister Sargent said that there are three bodies authorised to certify organic farmers in Ireland. The three bodies are Demeter Standards Limited (IRL-OIB1-EU), the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, IOFGA (IRL-OIB2-EU) and Organic Trust Limited (IRL-OIB3-EU). They apply a set of rules approved by the EU and the Department, and anyone pretending to be an organic producer without being certified is not only misleading the consumer but is committing an offence.

The label on any organic turkey should have the words "Certified Organic", in addition to the Certification Code of one of the certification bodies. Any organic producer selling directly to the public should be able to show their certification from one of the three private bodies. "Consumers should satisfy themselves that they are getting the real thing for their money," Minister Sargent said.

Minister Sargent said that anyone selling organic food without proper certification was liable to fines of up to €5,000 or a term of imprisonment, or both. "I am calling on consumers to report incidents of people pretending to sell organic turkeys illegally," the Minster said. "Not only are they deceiving the consumer, but they are also harming genuine organic producers. I have told my officials that I want such cases investigated fully."

Consumers can report any suspicious incidents to the Organic Unit, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford at Lo-call 1890 200 509, or by email to organics@agriculture.gov.ie. Any reports will be followed up immediately. The Organic Unit also provide the public with information on organic food and farming and their rights as consumers.

13 December, 2007

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Organic food produced in Ireland must be certified by one of the following three bodies:

Demeter Standards Irl Ltd
Watergarden,
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
Tel. 056-7754214
Fax. 056-7754214
Email: bdaai@indigo.ie
Irish Organic Farmers and Growers
Association Ltd
Main St, Newtownforbes
Co Longford
Tel. 043-42495
Fax. 043-42496
Email: iofga@eircom.net


Website: www.irishorganic.ie

Organic Trust Ltd
Vernon House
2 Vernon Avenue
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Tel. (01) 8530271
Fax: (01) 8530271
Email: organic@iol.ie


Website: www.organic-trust.org

Organic produce certified in Ireland must carry the words Certified Organic or Organic Certification on the product label followed by the code of the certifying body
IRL-OIB1-EU (Demeter)
IRL-OIB2-EU (IOFGA)
IRL-OIB3-EU (Organic Trust)

Each of the bodies also has its own label

Date Released: 13 December 2007