Organic Food

What is organic food?
Organic food is the product of an agricultural or aquacultural system of farming that places a strong emphasis on environmental protection and animal welfare. While organic and non-organically produced food may appear very similar, the systems of farming involved in their production can be very different.

Who can produce organic food?
Anybody can produce organic food as long as they have met the criteria set out in EU and Irish legislation governing organic food and have been certified by one of the certification and inspection bodies designated by the Organic Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Food can only be labelled and marketed as organic when produced on a farm that has been certified as organic following inspection by an official certification body.
Read DAFM guidance on organic farming

What is an organic license?
In general, any operator engaged in the production, preparation, storage or import (from third countries) of organic products, or who places such products on the market, must be registered and licensed as an organic operator. The rules governing this are laid down by EU legislation (see Council Regulation 834/2007 and Article 28 in particular).

Are there exemptions from holding an organic license?
Yes. Member States may exempt operators who restrict themselves to the sale of prepacked organic products, provided that they have not been involved in preparing, importing or storing these products other than in connection with their point of sale, or have not contracted this out to another operator to do so on their behalf. In this respect please note that prepacked organic products sold as 'Own Brand' or ‘Specially packed for…’ does NOT qualify for exemption and requires the retailer to be licensed in his own right.

For more information see press release issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in April 2017

What legislation governs organic food?
The production of organic food in Ireland is governed by EU legislation as transposed into Irish Statutory Instruments and implemented by the Organic Unit of DAFM. While the production methods are governed by specific organic legislation, organic food is subject to the same controls as any other food with respect to general safety and labelling rules.
Access organic food legislation

Is imported organic food produced to the same standard as Irish organic food?
Organic food produced anywhere in the EU is subject to the same standards and criteria set out in harmonised EU legislation. However, standards set out in EU legislation are considered the minimum requirements and certification bodies within Ireland and other Member States may operate to higher standards. Organic food may be imported into the EU from non-EU countries as long as they have been assessed to ensure the production standards and control systems are equivalent to those in the EU.

What labels can I use on my organic produce?
Food may only be labelled as ‘organic’ once it has been certified as organic by one of the certification and inspection bodies designated by DAFM. General food safety and labelling requirements that apply to non-organic food apply equally to organic foodstuffs. Along with specific requirements such as a list of ingredients, food allergen labelling, etc., labelling must not mislead the consumer.

Read DAFM guidance on organic farming  

Last reviewed: 17/5/2017

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