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European Commission to Derecognize 5 Agencies Certifying Organic Exports from India

Five certifying agencies are set to be blacklisted from certifying organic product exports from India by the European Commission as Indian shippers, cleared by them, failed to meet the norms for ethylene oxide presence in their consignments, particularly sesame (til/gingelly).

Ayushi Raina
Organic Fruits and Vegetable
Organic Fruits and Vegetable

5 certifying agencies could be blacklisted from certifying organic product exports from India by the European Commission (EC) as the Indian shippers, cleared by them, did not meet the norms for ethylene oxide presence in their consignments, mainly sesame (til/gingelly).

The withdrawal of recognition granted to them to certify organic products from India comes after the European Union issued at least 90 notifications in the Organic Farming Information System (OFIC) in recent months. The decision was made during a meeting of the European Commission's committee on organic production in early July.

Impact unlikely on exports

According to the draft report released by the EC last week, four of these certifying agencies are based in Europe and one in the United States. According to Delhi-based trade analyst S Chandrasekaran, the development is unlikely to have an impact on India's organic product exports because there are 28 other agencies, both domestic and international, that may certify organic product exports from the country.

The draft, which represents the European Commission's preliminary views, will go into effect automatically in the first week of November and will be valid until December 2026, he stated. The news comes on the heels of reports that the EU has discovered high concentration of ETO residue in Indian spice exports.

"As regards India, since October 2020, a large number of consignments totaling thousands of tonnes of allegedly organic sesame seed contaminated with ethylene oxide (ETO) have been imported from that third country, particularly from operators controlled by control bodies supervised by India...," according to the EC draft said.

Health risk

The EU regards ETO as carcinogenic to humans and has been closely monitoring imports to ensure that the maximum permissible level of ETO residue is not exceeded. The EC stated that the maximum level of the chemical permitted in Indian sesame imports was significantly surpassed.

The higher level of ETO presence has resulted in "consumers being misled and a significant health risk," the draft said, and the EC's hands have been forced due to "the lack of response on the root causes of the control system failure from the control bodies involved in those contaminations."

The draft specifically stated that certifying agencies should not be included in the list of control bodies recognised by India's competent authority - the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

CU Inspections India Pvt. Ltd., Ecocert India Pvt Ltd, Indian Organic Certification Agency (Indocert), Lacon Quality Certifications Pvt Ltd – all and OneCert International Private Limited are the five agencies under the cloud.

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