Butchers still confused over their organic status

Confusion still reigns over whether butchers can advise consumers the organic meat they are buying is organic, unless they are independently inspected by an approved certification body.

That is the verdict of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders.

"Until a few weeks ago, we were unaware that this was necessary as our advice to members was that it was unnecessary when one or two enquired on hearing about the television documentary due to be screened about the organic scam in the South West," NFMFT chief executive Graham Bidston told the Journal. "Defra have told us that certification is necessary due to EU legislation, however, we are also seeking advice from the Local Authorities Co-ordinating on Regulatory Services (LACORS). Until we have chapter and verse from them we cannot give proper advice to our members."

According to Bidston, confusion arises from the fact that there are 13 certifying bodies and each has different requirements. "There seem to be different degrees of interpretation as far as we can see after looking at Defra's Compendium of UK organic standards - a 109 page document issued in July 2005. If a butcher uses a knife which has been used to cut non-organic meat on organic meat he can fall foul of the law."

Currently the NFMFT is continuing to tell its members that they can verbally advise their customers that the meat is from an organic source if its trade documents prove so. This is with the proviso that they add, 'However for technical and bureaucratic reasons I am being advised not to label or advertise it as organic until my trade association has clarified the legal situation'.

A spokesman for Defra confirmed that the various certifying bodies had differing requirements. "In the compendium we just lay out out the minimum standards that have to be fulfilled to meet EU legislation on organics.

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