Inspection and certification
These inspections have to be performed at every stage in the organic farming supply chain, allowing you, the consumer, to be confident that you are buying organic food, which has been produced according to strict European rules aiming at respecting the environment and animal welfare and inspected accordingly.
This process is supervised by each EU Member State, which is responsible for establishing an inspection system with competent authorities to ensure adherence to the obligations established in the organic Regulation.
In this capacity, each EU Member State has designated a number of public authorities and/or approved private inspection bodies to carry out the inspections. All inspection bodies or inspection authorities act under the supervision or in close cooperation with the central competent authorities of the Member States. Each year the Member States are reporting on this supervision or cooperation to the EU Commission. Please find here the latest summary of the supervision reports (report 2006, report 2005).
Private inspection bodies must satisfy certain conditions:
- They have to be accredited under the EU’s General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems
- They have to be approved by the Member States' competent authority
- They have to be objective vis-à-vis the operators subject to their inspections
Code numbers of control bodies and control authorities
Whenever the EU organic logo is used on the product, it always has to be accompanied by the code number of the control body or authority to which the operator who has carried out the most recent production or preparation operation is subject.
The general format of the code number is AB-CDE-999, where AB is the ISO code of the country where the control takes place, CDE is a term establishing a link with the organic production, such as "bio" or "org" or "eko" and 999 is a reference number.
Member States attribute a code number to each organic control body and authority they have approved to operate on their territory. You should find this code number on every organic label. The code number is a sign that the product you are buying has been inspected by the control body or authority which guarantees it was produced or processed in accordance with the organic Regulation. Please find here the latest list of EU control bodies and authorities with their code numbers.
On imported products, it is an obligation to mention the code number of the control body or authority only if the EU organic logo is used. The European Commission is in charge of attribution of code numbers to control bodies and authorities performing inspections outside the EU.
Please find here:
- the list of code numbers of control bodies and authorities from equivalent third countries (Article 7 and Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008)
- the list of code numbers of control bodies and authorities working under the system of import authorisations issued by Member States according to the procedure described in Article 19 of Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008
Before operators can start farming organically or manufacturing organic products they must first apply to an organic inspection body or authority in their Member State. Their premises and production methods have to be inspected and acknowledged by the inspection body or authority. Organic farms also have to undergo a conversion period, before they can sell their products as organic.
Infringements and irregularities
In the event that an operator is found to have infringed the requirements of the regulation and the inspection regime, the inspection authority or body can ban the operator from marketing his or her products as organic.
Where irregularities occur in only one batch of a production run, the inspection authority or body ensures that the references, indications and logos referring to the organic production method are not used on that batch.