Spawning unscrupulous offices are ready to sell an organic certificate for 12 thousand.
In Russia, a year ago, federal law №280 "On organic products..." came into effect - it seemed that it would make it easier for consumers to wander around store shelves in search of healthy food.
The idea was initially, in general, good. The issuance of a certificate of conformity was to ensure that its holder is a specific agricultural producer:
- does not use chemical fertilizers, mineral fertilizers of synthetic origin, pesticides, hormones in the manufacture of its products,
- keeps livestock raised in proper conditions, meets all sanitary and epidemiological requirements,
- makes high demands on the quality of animal feed, controls the use of antibiotics,
- in products - only natural ingredients without GMOs and harmful additives, etc.
But it turned out to be easy to get around this new law regulating the procedure for obtaining an organic certificate of conformity by manufacturers.
How the certificates are falsified for the sake of the coveted organic label, told NI in the National Organic Union.
Test purchases on Russian shelves from time to time lead to a disappointing result: up to 80% of products labeled “eco, bio”, “organic” and “organic” actually have nothing to do with organic products. How is it that counterfeit products with such markings penetrate even large retail chains?
On February 4, Roskachestvo conducted its research on this matter and came to the conclusion that imported products with European organic certificates are less likely to be counterfeited (only in 3% of cases). It turns out that a significant percentage of counterfeiting is on the conscience of domestic producers, and this is despite the fact that "organic" is regulated by law. Why is this happening?
The problem is the lack of government oversight. In fact, no one is interested in the "purity" of the product, except for the retail chains themselves. In a parallel process, pseudo-organizations are flourishing, which are ready to cheaply produce any organic certificate for suppliers, comments Oleg Mironenko, executive director of the National Organic Union:
“Federal Law No. 280 on organic production came into force in January 2020, but on a number of fundamental points it does not apply. Rospotrebnadzor and Rosselkhoznadzor are still arguing among themselves who will monitor compliance with the new law. The Ministry of Agriculture of Russia has not yet determined the body that should deal with this, and how it should be done. As a result, there is simply no mechanism for protecting consumers and responsible producers today. Trading networks are trying to organize this work on their own”, - says Mironenko.
He notes that the National Organic Union receives periodic complaints from market participants and consumers who themselves find counterfeit products on store shelves. A fake can often be found even in such popular networks as Pyaterochka and Magnit, in a number of online stores.
The first step is to pay attention to the fact that the labeling on the "eco" and "bio" products is essentially a dummy, a purely marketing move, such concepts and definitions are not regulated by law at all.
Some manufacturers contrive to use the “Organic” label in English on their products, although the obligation to use the Russian language when informing the consumer about the goods sold in Russia is stipulated in clause 2 of Art. 8 of the Law N 2300-1 "On Protection of Consumer Rights" and some technical GOSTs (all-Union State Standards).
Recently, consumers have received complaints about specific products, for example: Kale kale, Pure Nature Mild vodka, Organic table egg. The National Organic Union has checked these products and found that they are all labeled "Organic" / "Organic" inappropriately:
“None of these companies has an organic certificate, is not included in the register of organic producers and does not have a European certificate”, - notes Oleg Mironenko.
How should an organic supplier act so as not to violate anything?
“A manufacturer who positions his product as different from ordinary industrial agricultural products must mark it with a special graphic sign of the established uniform pattern. However, he receives the right to label only if and from the moment of entering information about himself as a manufacturer of organic products and types of organic products produced in the unified state register. To be included in such a register, you need to go through serious checks on the quality of products being prepared for sale", - the expert explains.
Even at the annual all-Russian exhibitions in the Moscow Expocentre, you can often stumble upon agricultural producers with fake organic certificates. But for the manufacturers themselves, as it turns out, a real discovery that their certificates are fakes.
“There are clear criteria for participation in the exhibition: a company must have an organic certificate, international or Russian national. But we are receiving applications from supposedly organic producers. When we talk with representatives of such companies, at first they don't even understand what they did wrong. We have been dealing with such false markings for many years”, - says Tatyana Lebedeva, organizer of the Prodexpo Organic exhibition.
The business of "leftist" organic certification falls into two camps. Some - they understand everything and deliberately deceive or look for legislative loopholes. The second - they simply do not know the legal minimum and are ready to certify anything: vegetarian, gluten-free, and organic. Manufacturing entrepreneurs, unfortunately, fall for this deception because of the attractively low prices for their certificates. Manufacturers continue to undergo voluntary certification from such certifiers and promote their products on the shelves as organic, since there is no control at all in this niche, and if the retail chains themselves do not open this "linden", the product will calmly stand on the shelf, the expert explains.
- Recently, there are indeed products on the market that are labeled as organic, but are not. Its producers issue an organic certificate in certification companies that do not have official accreditation to conduct such an examination. We, of course, do not let such products into our distribution network, but someone does. We verify the certificates of our suppliers with the Unified Register of Organic Producers and only allow products with confirmed certification to showcases, - comments Anna Belaya, brand manager of one of the Moscow grocery chains . “For buyers, this is a guarantee that the selected products are really pure formulations and are produced in an environmentally friendly manner. But often the suppliers themselves come to us for advice on which organizations are authorized to issue certificates. And, in my opinion, it is very important to work together: if both retailers and manufacturers will carefully approach the certification of organic products, then the problem of fake labeling can be eradicated.
Where does the dominance of fake certification come from?
At the beginning of 2020, when the law came into force, false certifiers first rushed into the services of issuing eco- and bio-certificates. But there were no queues for such markings, because they do not represent any value from the point of view of state regulation. Then the scammers returned to false certificates with the word "organic", there are even more such sellers than before. Some of them are even accredited by the Federal Accreditation Agency, but in other areas. This "nuance" does not prevent, nevertheless, from posting offers for the sale of organic certificates on their sites. Doubtful proposals on the Internet - the sea. A similar service is offered, for example, by the companies SK-Certificate, Vse TR TS, Blagotest, TechPromSert, Certification Plus, Polotest, PromTechStandard, Ufatest, Rospromstandart, Svyatobor "And others. And there are many more such companies than those who are accredited in accordance with the law, and their marketing strategy is more aggressive, experts say.
To scout the price list, the National Organic Union contacted several of these companies.
“We made sure that organizations not only mislead manufacturers about the certification procedure established by law, but also for their own money create further problems for suppliers in promoting their real organic products to the shelves of stores and chains”, - comments Oleg Mironenko.
On one of the sites, a proposal was posted to produce an organic certificate in 2-3 days, which, in principle, cannot be done according to the current standards. Initially they asked for 12 thousand rubles for the service, but in the course of negotiations the price rose to 450 thousand rubles. What is the reason for such a "fork" and what, in fact, is such a price, the dealers explained vaguely. At the same time, the company convinced that it was accredited to issue the required certificate, but refused to provide supporting documents, citing the fact that they were working through a partner. In a number of cases, Rostest was called a partner, which also does not have organic accreditation. All of these false certifiers on their websites have links to organic law and standards - that is, they know the norms, but do not comply. What for? Anyway, there are no controllers, the National Organic Union comments.
Many of the merchants refer to the fact that they have registered voluntary certification systems (VTS) with Rosstandart, which supposedly allow organic certification, despite the requirements of the law.
“In the Rosstandart database, only a superficial examination, we found 11 SDSs, in which the certification scope indicated" organic products "or their production (in fact, there are many more), but only 5 of the owners of such SDSs passed the accreditation process Federal Law 280, and it is surprising that Rosstandart does not monitor this situation. This dual system, when one can register a VTS and then not get accredited, creates tension in the market and increases the number of defrauded producers and consumers alike. And no one is tracking this, and no one is responsible for it”, - Oleg Mironenko emphasizes.
At the time of the entry into force of the law on organic matter, market experts recorded that the amount of counterfeit products really began to decline. But from the second half of 2020 to this day, the situation began to turn in the opposite direction. There is a new wave of counterfeiting. When the law is adopted, but it is in effect, it only discredits the whole meaning of the development of the sphere of organic agriculture, concluded in the National Organic Union.