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Minister Sargent Welcomes Stronger Controls For Organic Food And Farming

Welcoming the signing of an amendment to the Statutory Instrument on Organic Farming by Minister Mary Coughlan today, Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said that the additional powers granted to his officials would enable them to enforce the Regulations governing the organic sector much more effectively. The new provisions are aimed particularly at rogue traders passing off food as organic that does not meet the legal requirements.

Producers and processors contravening the new organic regulations now face fines of up to €5,000 or a term of imprisonment. Department officials will be able to seize produce, vehicles and other items and to serve fixed penalty and compliance notices on non-compliant operators. "I am committed to developing the organic sector in Ireland and consumer confidence is vital," the Minister said. "Consumers often pay a premium for organic food and I want to be able to assure them that they are getting what they are paying for."

In tandem with the new Regulations, Minister Sargent announced that additional resources were being assigned to the Organic Unit of his Department. The combination of these two initiatives will lead to a more effective inspection regime of all retail outlets selling organic produce.

Minister Sargent urged consumers who know of traders passing off conventional food as organic to contact the Organic Unit. "All reports will be treated in confidence," he said, "and they will be taken seriously. The message is clear: anyone selling organic food must have proper certification and play by the rules."

3 October 2007

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The Department's Organic Unit can be contacted by telephone at Lo Call 1890-200-509 and by email at organics@agriculture.gov.ie

The postal address is:

Organic Unit
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Johnstown Castle Estate
Co Wexford

Date Released: 03 October 2007