Home > Fake Goods > Organic Food Scam

Organic Food Scam

Author: Chris Nickson - Updated: 7 November 2012 | commentsComment
 
Organic Food Organic Food Scam Health

As the awareness of health rises, so does the popularity of organic food. Untainted by chemicals, it's better for our bodies. It's become a multi-million pound industry - one that's open for scams. When we buy organic food, we believe we're getting the real thing, but are we?

What Makes Food Organic

Organic food can best be described as "food grown without most artificial fertilisers or pesticides and in a way that emphasises crop rotation, making the most of natural fertilisers and ensuring that the life of the soil is maintained. Animals are kept in ways which minimise the need for medicines and other chemical treatments."

The Soil Association established the first set of organic food standards in 1974, and in 1993 a European Community Regulation (EC2092/91) came into effect, to ensure consumers weren't misled.

Food may be called organic only if grown by a certified producer of organic foods. You might see on the label "Organically Grown Apples" or just "Organic Apples". Labels must indicate the organic certification body with which the packer of the produce is registered. This must be done using a code number, although the name or trademark of the certification body may also be shown. The rules are the safe for manufactured food with two or more organic ingredients. The manufacturer can use 5% of certain non-organic food ingredients but still label their product as being organic.

Every organic producer or processor is inspected at least once a year by the Certification Body with which they are registered (there are six in total). Another 10% are also checked by UKROFS (United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards), to make sure that the organic inspection carried out by the Certification Body has been completed to the appropriate standard.

How The Organic Scam Works

2005 saw the first prosecutions in the U.K. for mislabelling food as organic, with a butcher being fined over £6,000 and a greengrocer more than £3,000. With organic food selling at premium prices, it's obviously a temptation for retailers and growers. They're aided by the fact that it's impossible to determine whether any food is organic simply by looking at it.

There have been instances of organic farmers using non-organic manure, for example, and even farmers falsely saying they have Soil Association accreditation.

Sorting the truth from the lies is very difficult, and certainly not something the consumer can do. It's usually the job of Trading Standards Officers, who have to follow a paper trail to fully determine the origin of the food. That takes time and money - it's often more expensive to prosecute someone than the fine they'll have to pay.

But with a growing number of organic producers (there were some 4000 in 2004), the policing becomes harder, especially if retailers misrepresent produce. Add in some 500 farmers' markets and all the box schemes around the country, and it becomes exceedingly difficult. On top of that, more than half of the organic food sold in Britain comes from abroad.

What You Can Do

In truth, you can't be certain that the meat or produce you're buying is truly organic. What you can do, at least in smaller retailers or farmers' markets, is ask to see the certification and ask questions about what they grow and how. Again, though, you have no way of being sure the answers are truthful (although the vast majority are).

Buy locally wherever possible. That way you know the origin, and can even go and look at the farm. Apart from supporting a local small business, it will give you more confidence in the food you buy.

Wherever you're buying organic food, demand to see the certification. It might not be conclusive proof, but it will increase the confidence. That's especially true if you're buying produce packaged by a particular farm, with their address and certification information on the bag.

Grow your own. The chances are that you won't be able to provide for your family solely from your back garden, but you can give them some home-grown vegetables and fruit - and you can be certain as to the growing conditions.

If you suspect someone is mislabelling organic food, report them to your local Trading Standards Officer. He will follow up on your complaint.

With the increasing concerns over GM foods and pesticides, the demand for organic food is only going to grow, and with it the number of organic food scammers. Use these guidelines to protect yourself and your family. The more you know, and the more questions you ask, the safer you're going to be.

You might also like...
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
Why not be the first to leave a comment, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopfully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Dubious
    Re: Cheque Scams
    @andrew perigo How did that work out in the end? I have just received something very similar regarding a car I'm selling. "I'll pay your asking price…
    15 October 2014
  • SafeFromScams
    Re: Pyramid Schemes
    @ALARMED. It's not one we've come across but we will investigate it when we can. Thanks for pointing it out.
    6 October 2014
  • ALARMED
    Re: Pyramid Schemes
    There is one that seems to be quite big in America. It's called iPAS2. It's difficult to research as they are cleverly named. Whenever you type in…
    3 October 2014
  • Leon
    Re: Mobile Phone Scams
    My 11 year old daughter has been repeated tricked by more than one mobile phone scammer causing her to use up all of her pay as you go credit.…
    30 September 2014
  • Ardent1000
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Mark Fittes companies have a nasty habit of going belly up after a year or two and he constantly tries to get more money up front out of…
    21 September 2014
  • Ardent1000
    Re: Builder's Scams
    WeatherAll (NE) are among the worst builders I have come across. The owner Mark Fittes ended up trying to intimidate my dad who is in his 70's…
    9 September 2014
  • SafeFromScams
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    @eggs. You're not the first person to have experienced this. It's ridiculous that SKY gives you a secure login to your account on its website but via…
    4 September 2014
  • eggs
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    sky have a web site but wont let you cancell your contract with them by this ssite when i tried they had no record of my account ,but still asked for my…
    3 September 2014
  • Waryone
    Re: Charity Scams: Household Collections
    I am concerned about a charity collection bag from "Helping our Soldiers". Not a registered charity, only a mobile phone…
    6 August 2014
  • Mick
    Re: Mobile Phone Scams
    I have received a call from 0843 654 6864 on my mobile which rang twice and stopped but then sent a message back to that number from my phone.…
    5 August 2014
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeFromScams website. Please read our Disclaimer.