Given the misleading information circulating in some articles, social media and in some videos, Ecocert would like to condemn all unverified news, stating anything other than the below stance:
In October 2021, the European Commission proposed through a draft regulation, to delist 5 Indian certification bodies (CBs), namely Ecocert India Pvt. Ltd, Control Union India, Indocert, Lacon India, and OneCert International, as part of the equivalence between NPOP and the EU regulation for Category A: organic unprocessed plant products), as from January 1st, 2022.
Despite the mobilization of the whole organic sector (clients, associations, certification bodies, etc.) to convince the EU Commission to renounce to propose the delisting of the 5 CBs, the text was finally submitted as is to the vote of the Member States and adopted on November 26th, 2021. APEDA has confirmed the decision taken by EU as per their letter dated 14th December 2021. To date, the regulation is not yet published, nevertheless, we think it is important for you to correctly understand the regulation so that appropriate measures can be taken by the organic sector in India and Europe before the text becomes effective on January 1st, 2022.
What is going to happen?
Ecocert India Pvt. Ltd, along with the four other CBs, will officially be removed from the list of control bodies recognised by the EU Commission once the regulation is published in the next couple of days and effective from 1st January 2022. However please note this is only applicable for Category A (unprocessed plant products) exports to the European Union.
What does not change?
Ecocert India Pvt. Ltd will continue to certify all local projects (domestic transactions) in India under NPOP (National program for Organic production) and exports to international markets (as per EOS, NOP, JAS, Demeter, Naturland, Biosuisse, KRV, Korean Organic standards) except for category A (unprocessed plant products) to European Union until further notice.
What it means for Ecocert and its clients?
Regarding exports to the EU
Certification for Category A (unprocessed plant products) delivered by Ecocert India Pvt Ltd is valid until 31st December 2021 for exports to European Union. After 1st Jan 2022 Ecocert India won’t be able to certify category A products to the European Union until further notice. Ecocert Organic Standard (EOS) certification for Category D & E (processed agriculture products for use as food and Feed) delivered by Ecocert SA is not impacted in any way and EOS certificate remains valid for export to Europe after 1st January 2022. The definitions of processed and unprocessed products are mentioned below for your reference*.
For export to the rest of the world
This action proposed by the European Commission does not affect the exports of NPOP including category A certified products to other countries or regions like USA, Canada, Japan, Asia, Middle East, and Great Britain etc.
For exports of textiles under private standards like GOTS
Since GOTS directly recognizes the NPOP standard as input into the GOTS supply-chain, the delisting of the 4 CB’s has no impact on the GOTS projects. Operators can therefore continue to purchase raw materials from any supplier certified by any NPOP accredited CB in India, including Ecocert India, Control Union India, Indocert and Lacon India, for trade or use in their textile products.
For local organic certification (NPOP)
APEDA has granted renewal of NPOP accreditation to Ecocert India Pvt Ltd therefore local organic certification will continue until August 2023.
What is the context of this EU decision?
The European Commission has taken this decision following Ethylene oxide (ETO) contaminations discovered as from October 2020 on both conventional and organic sesame imported in EU from India. The products have probably been fumigated fraudulently with ETO as a response to recurrent salmonella sanitary issue stressed by the EU authorities. It should be admitted that ETO was not known for such use in the food industry, whether conventional or organic, to any stakeholders including authorities, certification bodies or analytical labs.
3 out of 90 alerts referred to consignments certified by Ecocert India for export of sesame and were related to one single operator. Each consignment allowed by Ecocert India was accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate, mentioning no fumigation was performed, issued by the dedicated department of Ministry of Agriculture. Thanks to the implementation of a whole set of corrective measures by Ecocert India, such as ETO testing as a requisite, imposed to all its operators, there was no ETO alert regarding category A (Unprocessed plant products) for organic consignments certified by Ecocert India, shipped after January 2021.
What is the way ahead?
Ecocert India Pvt. Ltd is working with all concerned organic stakeholders to ensure the transition process is smooth. On the other hand, as we strongly disagree with this delisting for the certification of category A product, Ecocert will be taking all necessary actions with the EU and local authorities, in order to be relisted. Finally, Ecocert will always strive to maintain consumers’ confidence in organic products, since the beginning this has always been the key mission statement of Ecocert.
*Extracts from REGULATION (EC) No 852/2004 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
(m) ‘processing’ means any action that substantially alters the initial product, including heating, smoking, curing, maturing, drying, marinating, extraction, extrusion or a combination of those processes;
(n) ‘unprocessed products’ means foodstuffs that have not undergone processing, and includes products that have been divided, parted, severed, sliced, boned, minced, skinned, ground, cut, cleaned, trimmed, husked, milled, chilled, frozen, deep-frozen or thawed;
(o) ‘processed products’ means foodstuffs resulting from the processing of unprocessed products. These products may contain ingredients that are necessary for their manufacture or to give them specific characteristics.