The organic seals have long been found not only in farm shops and small organic chains, but discounters also offer a growing range of organic products. As an end consumer you can get a little confused with all the terms such as organic, organic, eco and ecological. The good news is: All of these terms are legally protected in the EU - at least in the case of food - and may only be used after careful checking. But you can now find out here what is really behind the individual logos and where certain terminology traps are hidden.
What does organic actually mean?
Unfortunately, there is generally no general answer to this question. Ultimately, it all depends on which product you are holding in your hand. Depending on the product, organic can either be a state-tested and trustworthy seal or an empty marketing term. At least there is a little more clarity when it comes to food, because organic is a protected term here. Things are completely different when it comes to cosmetics, medicine or clothing. In this article, however, we want to take a look at food and make sense of the confusion of organic seals. A lot has happened in the organic scene in recent years.
The usual organic seals
End consumers recognize organic products by the widespread EU organic logo in the shape of a green leaf. It is mandatory for all packaged organic products within the EU that comply with the EU guidelines for organic farming. The hexagonal organic seal has also been available in Germany since 2001. Product manufacturers can voluntarily add this organic seal to the mandatory EU organic logo sheet. The introduction of the hexagonal logo was seen as an important step in the further development of the organic market.
But what is really behind the organic seals?
The EC Basic Organic Regulation sets out the minimum requirements for organic food within the EU. It defines exactly how agricultural products that are labeled with an organic seal must be produced and manufactured.
The organic seal is only awarded after careful review to ensure that all criteria of EU legislation for organic farming are met. This includes, among other things:
- When growing organically, no pesticides or mineral fertilizers may be used
- At least 95% of the ingredients must come from organic farming
- No flavor enhancers, artificial flavors, stabilizers or synthetic sweeteners may be used
- Genetic engineering is strictly prohibited
- A maximum of 50 additives are permitted when processing organic food. That may sound like a lot, but there are over 300 additives that are regularly used in conventional foods
- In the case of animal husbandry: Animals must not be fed antibiotics or growth hormones. In addition, tethering of animals is not reimbursed
More organic seals
In recent years there has been repeated criticism of the EC Organic Regulation because it only sets minimum standards. For example, organic fruit and vegetables are often packaged in plastic and even if organic animal husbandry is better than conventional farming, there is also mass production here. Organic farmers are allowed to keep up to 3,000 chickens in one stable, which means that six chickens have to share one square meter. This led to the desire for even stricter guidelines. German organic associations such as Bioland, Demeter and Naturland build on the EU's minimum requirements with additional rules.
Be careful, there is no organic content hereThere are a number of flowery formulations that give the buyer the illusion of a green, rural idyll and plenty of exercise space for animals, although this is by no means an organic product. These formulations include, for example:
- From controlled cultivation
- From an alternative stance
- From environmentally friendly cultivation
- From state-recognized farms
- Under independent control