Once organic produce leaves the farm, it may go through several stages to become food. Each stage involves the same degree of care, professionalism and compliance with organic regulations that is required from organic farmers, to ensure the end product is fully organic.
Organic processors and, by extension, marketers and food distributors, have the same concerns as organic farmers – to supply food that respects the environment and natural cycles.
The following are key principles for the processing of organic produce:
- The use of additives and the processing of foods are restricted.
- Only small amounts of synthetic ingredients may be used.
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be used.
Legal requirements for organic processors
- Most of the ingredients must be of organic agricultural origin.
- Non-organic agricultural ingredients may be used only if they are authorised by the Commission or an EU country.
- Only small amounts of additives or processing aids may be used under certain conditions..
- No artificial flavourings and colorants may be used.
- Organic and non-organic food ingredients must be stored, handled and processed separately at all times.
Inspection of organic processors
On top of these requirements, processors in the EU organic sector are inspected at least once a year to guarantee they meet EU legal requirements.
Range of organic products
While organic farming seeks to keep agriculture in touch with its traditional roots and works in harmony with nature, organic processing caters to a wide variety of tastes and culinary preferences among modern consumers.
So, in addition to non-processed foods, the organic product range includes:
- baby food
- yoghurt and cheese
- cakes, pastry and biscuits
- breakfast cereals
- fruit juices
- tinned fruits and vegetables
As organic farmers tend to select lesser-known plant and livestock varieties because they are more resistant to pests and diseases and better suited to local and seasonal conditions, the organic processing sector probably has an even wider range of raw materials to work with.