Organic food, also called biological or ecological food, refers to products derived from organic production, and certified to ensure compliance with the regulations on this production system. Such regulations prohibit the use of chemical synthesis substances, such as pesticides or herbicides. Genetically modified or transgenic organisms are not allowed, either. In organic livestock farming, the use of antibiotics for prevention is forbidden, something that should be generally avoided to prevent severe health problems that lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The use of additives is highly restricted in the production of organic food; only a limited number of processing aids are allowed, in fact, only those strictly necessary for transformation processes. The use of other additives such as colouring agents is also forbidden.
Organic food must comply with the same European Food Regulations as other foodstuffs; therefore, they are doubly controlled.
There are many reasons to go for organic production. We often choose organic products for their taste, but they are also the most recommended foodstuffs in a healthy diet context. In addition to being free of pesticide residue, organic products usually present more beneficial nutritional properties stemming from the production system.
Many scientific studies have demonstrated this fact. For example, organic meat or milk have a higher healthy fatty acid content as the animal feed is mainly based on pasture and fodder.
Health authorities have highlighted the benefits of organic food for health, which is why Asturias has implemented the Healthy Food and Organic Production Programme in school canteens. This programme responds to the need to improve children’s diets by improving the nutritional balance of the menus, and incorporating educational aspects into the acquisition of healthy eating habits. All of this is done in an environmentally respectful manner, and in line with the philosophy of responsible and fair consumption, by promoting the benefits of organic farming and its gradual introduction into school canteens.
COPAE is involved in this Programme, promoted by the Regional Ministries of Health, Education and Rural Environment, in the framework of an intersectoral and continuous action.
Organic farming must maintain and increase soil fertility, and preserve the health of natural resources, soil, water and air as well as sustain a high degree of biodiversity.
On the other hand, organic production regulations are a benchmark in terms of animal welfare, providing animals with the housing conditions that allow them to behave in a natural manner.
Organic production contributes to rural development, as it is a production system that is more closely linked to the soil, and an alternative for the survival of small holdings in rural areas.
Organic production regulations foster short distribution channels so that food systems are more sustainable.
That is why regulations related to organic food labelling include an indication referring to the place of origin of the raw materials.
To label a product as “organic”, it has to be produced following strict organic production regulations and be certified by a certification and control body. COPAE performs control tasks over the registered operators in all the phases of production, elaboration and distribution of organic products. Periodically, COPAE inspectors perform detailed inspections and audits of registered operators. All the operators are controlled at least once a year, and there are also unannounced inspections. These controls include taking samples of different products to be sent to accredited laboratories to ensure the complete absence of residues of prohibited substances such as pesticides, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, forbidden additives, etc.
All operators registered in COPAE must comply with the organic production regulations and keep a series of records and documentary control to ensure compliance with the regulations in force
For a product to be labelled as “organic” it has to be certified by an authorised control and certification body. Organic food will always be identified by a code or logo, corresponding to the control body, and the EU organic production logo, which guarantees that the product has passed all the tests and controls that all organic production operators are subject to. Only certified organic products can bear the indications.
Only certified organic products can bear the indications.
The organic logo can only be used on products that have been certified as organic by an authorised control agency or body. The logo is compulsory for most organic products and must be displayed according to a specific set of rules.
COPAE is the certifying body in Asturias and their code is ES-ECO-012-AS. This is the logo:
It is becoming increasingly easier to find organic products at POS. There are different ways of finding organic products, such as small retailers that sell organic products in bulk or by pieces. To do so, they must be listed in COPAE’s Register of Retailers to pass the compulsory controls.
This Register includes small retailers listed by location or type of business or activity. They are recommendable POS as they usually sell proximity products or in bulk, using less plastic packaging. Check whether your favourite store is listed and controlled by COPAE. If not, you can inform us. Ask at your trusted store for all the necessary information for consumers.
COPAE promotes short distribution channels. A recommended and more direct way to purchase organic products is by buying directly from producers, directly from their holdings, or at local fairs and/or markets. In the following List of Producers, you can identify those that are closer to you and you can contact them directly.
COPAE also has a Register of Restaurant and Catering Businesses that use organic products. COPAE verifies the origin of the products and controls that the information on organic products used for the elaboration of dishes, and shown on the menu or at the restaurant, as ingredients, are clear and transparent, and do not mislead consumers.