Whether shopping at the corner market or in the supermarket, more and more people are looking for products with an organic label to help them eat better and respect the environment. But between green marketing packaging, genuine ecological certifications and regional labels, how can we be sure that what we’re consuming, particularly food and cosmetics, is truly organic? Quality, product provenance, traceability and manufacturing conditions are all crucial questions for consumers today.
They often want to know where their food comes from, how it was produced and what impact it has on the environment. How can we tell the difference between genuine organic products and greenwashing?
Recognizing the different European organic labels
All European organic labels, such as Ecogarantie and Biogarantie, are subject to the same European Union regulation, which has harmonized standards while leaving certain freedoms to national authorities.
This European Union regulation (EC no. 834/2007) provides a framework for obtaining and creating an organic label, defining the fundamental criteria for obtaining it. Organic labels must comply with rules not only for agricultural production, but also for product processing, limiting the use of industrial manufacturing techniques.
In Europe, for example, companies can use over 455 authorized pesticides (such as the highly controversial glyphosate). The EU regulation governing organic farming authorizes only 59. As far as authorized additives are concerned, conventional companies can use over 300 of them, while organic label companies can only use 50. What’s more, most of the additives authorized by European organic labels are of natural origin. Enrichment with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. is forbidden in the organic sector, unless required by law, as in the case of baby food, for example.
Authentic organic labels have 3 vital criteria:
- no synthetic chemical pesticides
- no synthetic chemical additives
- no use of GMOs
- Ready-made meals and all processed organic products are free from synthetic chemical colorants, flavors and flavor enhancers.
Ecogarantie, the European organic label since 2005, which has certified over 60 brands, has decided to ban petrochemical ingredients from its organic cosmetics in the interests of consumer well-being and respect for the environment. In addition to these bans, the regulation also stipulates that organic-labeled brands must respect crop rotation and animal welfare.
However, despite this desire for harmonization, variations persist, raising questions about the consistency of standards within the European Union. This diversity illustrates the challenge of reconciling environmentally-friendly farming practices with regional and national specificities.
Are organic products really better for your health?
Yes, organic products and ecological cosmetics are better for your health. We know this thanks to the European Food Safety Authority, which publishes the results of pesticide residue analyses on agricultural and food products every year. The results are clear: in France, pesticide residues are detected in 42% of foodstuffs, but only 12% of organic produce. The specifications of European organic labels have a direct impact on the end product and on consumer health. FIBL, the research institute for organic farming, confirms these data in a study: soils that are managed ecologically have 70-90% fewer pesticides and pesticide residues than conventional soils.
Are organic products really ecological?
Consumption and production patterns have changed dramatically in recent years, and European consumers looking to make eco-friendly choices and look after their health are increasingly relying on logos and labels. However, while some are perceived as genuine benchmarks of quality and sustainability, not all are reliable. According to a recent survey by the French food safety agency, 40% of consumers trust European organic labels. However, a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that only 30% of products labeled “organic” actually comply with strict organic production standards. The growing demand for organic products and eco-friendly cosmetics has led a number of companies to capitalize on this trend without living up to their customers’ expectations.
That’s why Ecogarantie has chosen to call on 3 independent bodies to certify brands wishing to become eco-friendly businesses. To distinguish them, don’t hesitate to carry out a certain amount of research before you buy. The composition of your products with the inci list generally present on the packaging is a good indicator, to decipher it you can use a scanning application like Yuka.