I am fully committed to ensuring that consumers have full confidence in the organic food they buy. For that reason, since 2007 my Department has assigned additional resources to the Organic Unit and the staff involved are now systematically inspecting retail outlets, including supermarkets, shops and farmers markets, checking to ensure that all product identified as organic has been produced fully in accordance with the organic regulations.
The introduction of the European Communities (Organic Farming) Regulation 2004 (S.I. No. 112 of 2004) gave my Department powers to prosecute contraventions of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 on organic production and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs. In October, 2007, SI No. 698 of 2007 amended this Statutory Instrument to grant significant additional powers to my Department officials to enable them to carry out their work in a more effective manner. To date three prosecutions have been successfully brought for labelling product in contravention of these Regulations. In addition, there have been three seizures of incorrectly labelled produce.