Organic foods were not organic

One in eight ‘bio’ products was sub-standard while one in four sausages contained wrong meat

25 June 2015

MORE than one in eight “bio” or organic foods does not meet the standards – and fraud agency investigators said 26.5% of meat samples in sausages contained meat from the wrong animals, usually pork but also horsemeat.

Officers from the DGCCRF fraud agency checked 1,100 organic shops in the high street, countryside and internet and a total of 2,802 products and found problems in 12.5% of cases.

They issued 255 warnings and 13 correction orders with charges on 21 offences and four shops threatened with closure.

The bulk of the problems were due to faulty or wrong labelling or packaging meaning non-organic products were being sold as organic or products claimed to be produced under organic processes had not met all the conditions.

However, 5% of the samples were tainted with forbidden pesticides and another 3.5% contained the banned piperonyl butoxide or PBO, which is toxic and carcinogenic. Nine samples containing PBO were put under surveillance.

Tainted products included tea from China, couscous from Italy, raisins and poppy seeds from Turkey, tomatoes from Spain plus oats, courgettes, lentils, lettuce and clementines from France.

However, the DGCCRF said that overall the organic food sector was very reliable and just 1% of product problems led to sanctions.

After the 2013 horsemeat scandal, officers also carried out a series of checks on meat suppliers and found problems in 26.5% of cases – mostly in sausages, salami, merguez and kebabs containing meat from the wrong animals.

Pork was found in 11% of samples, chicken in 5% and horsemeat in 3%.

The agency said one in four samples of merguez sausage contained pork rather than beef and found problems on a smaller scale with kebab meat. It said problem salami was found to contain less meat than specified.

In all, 27 shops or factories were checked in 808 visits and 644 samples were taken. Problems were found in 26.5% of cases and officers issued 151 warnings, 10 correction orders and laid 36 charges.

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