"Organic" Label Virtually Meaningless - The Reykjavik Grapevine

“Organic” Label Virtually Meaningless

Published October 8, 2015

Photos by
Magnús Andersen

Foods in Iceland labeled as “organic” might not actually be, and the Consumers’ Association of Iceland calls the situation “trickery”.

There have been an increasing number of foods labeled as “organic” (“vistvæn“) in Icelandic grocery stores. RÚV reports that the label essentially has no meaning, however, as there is no supervisory mechanism in place to ensure these products are organic. Producers can therefore label anything as organic without any public office inspecting and confirming them as such.

Teitur Atlason, the vice chairperson of the Consumers’ Association of Iceland, told reporters that the situation amounts to “trickery” of Icelandic consumers. A lack of supervision reflects a leniency from the state, he said, which needs to be conducted by a public authority that follows established guidelines for determining if a food product is organic.

A government work group has proposed that the organic label be revoked until such time as stricter regulations are put in place. Minister of Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannson called the current regulations on organic food “a child of its time”, and plans are in place to revoke them next week.

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