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Minister Sargent welcomes outcome of prosecution for mislabelling of organic product

Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has welcomed today's successful prosecution of a trader for labelling a non-organic turkey as organic in his shop in Cork's English Market. The prosecution was brought by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under the European Communities (Organic Farming) Regulations 2004.

Marc O'Mahony, who traded as The Organic Shop at the time of the offence, pleaded guilty today in Cork District Court. Judge David Riordan find O'Mahony €2,500 and awarded costs of €2,000 to the Department.

"I am very pleased with the outcome," Minister Sargent said. "It will serve as a warning to other traders who try to flout these Regulations that we have the power, and more importantly the will, to pursue them. It will also give reassurance to genuine organic producers that we are committed to upholding the rules, which are there to give consumers confidence in the sector."

Minister Sargent said that his Department officials were now regularly inspecting farmers' markets and shops where organic food was offered for sale. New Regulations introduced in 2007 give his officials even stronger powers of enforcement and the Minister said he was determined that these would be used to the full.

"Organic food is a premium product because it costs more to produce," Minister Sargent said. "Consumer confidence is vital. That is why we cannot and will not tolerate the kind of activity that led to this prosecution."

Minister Sargent urged members of the public to report any suspicious incidents to his Department's Organic Unit at Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford. The Unit can be contacted by phone on Lo-call 1890 200 509, or by email at organics@agriculture.gov.ie

Date Released: 06 March 2008