Imported organic foodstuffs meet the rules for organic production, show CAFIA results after first year of inspections
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (CAFIA) has been performing inspections of imported organic production for a year on the basis of new competences laid down by the amendment to Act No. 242/2000 Coll., on organic farming, which came into force on 1 October 2022. At that moment, the competences for confirming so-called COI certificates (certificates of inspection) were transferred to competent supervisory authorities – the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, the State Veterinary Administration and the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture. The Customs Administration, which had performed the inspections before, is now responsible for customs procedures only.
Import inspections of organic production are performed at the points of release for free circulation, which are all regional customs offices in the Czech Republic. Documentation checks consist in checking the COI and the accompanying documentation in 100% of cases. A minimum frequency of physical checks is set for potentially risky commodities which are included in the so-called guidelines for Member States. Random checks for other commodities are performed on the basis of a risk analysis.
From 1 October 2022 to 30 September 2023, CAFIA confirmed a total of 1049 COIs and 289 COI statements. All laboratory samples taken during the inspections of organic imports were satisfactory. No consignments violated the rules for organic production and thus all were released into free circulation as organic.
During the first few months, CAFIA encountered a number of questions risen by importers as a result of the change in the inspection body and years of practice. In particular, queries related to the choice of the place of release for free circulation and the requirement for documents that importers were not used to attach in the TRACES system (an online tool for managing the hygiene requirements of the European market, including imports of animals, propagating materials, foodstuffs, feedstuffs and plants). This year, inspections are already performed as a standard.
The Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Environmental and Organic Agriculture), which is the competent authority for the control of organic agriculture in the Czech Republic, evaluates the modification of competences on the basis of the amendment to Act No. 242/2000 Coll. positively without any reservations about the activities of CAFIA. The improvement, particularly with regard to more precise documentation, is also appreciated by the authorised certifying inspection organisations in the Czech Republic.
Article by: Bc. Marek Bartík – Officer for Media Communication
16th October 2023