Dispute over organic fraud in the catering industry

Dispute over organic fraud in the catering industry
Dispute over organic fraud in the catering industry

Bio Austria calls for external controls such as those that apply to retailers and organic farmers

Representatives of organic farmers accuse the catering industry of label fraud. Some catering companies advertise organic products without checking whether this is actually the case, it was said on Friday in the Ö1 “Mittagsjournal” broadcast by ORF. The catering industry is fighting back and calling it a lie. The Greens now want mandatory certification for the catering industry. A proposal has been made, but the ÖVP is against the draft.

  • Also read: Number of organic farmers is decreasing

At present, restaurateurs do not need certification for organic products. This could be exploited, according to the concern of organic farmers, represented by Susanne Maier of Bio Austria. The farmers and retailers are closely monitored, but not the restaurateurs. “If it says organic on the label, it has to be organic inside and in the catering sector there is still a gap where catering establishments can advertise organic food as such, but there is no external control to ensure that this is actually implemented,” said Maier in the radio report.

Mandatory certification required

At the moment, a restaurateur can advertise that he has organic pasture-fed ducks, but only use ten percent of the animals as organic, for example, and buy the rest from elsewhere. Maier is therefore calling for mandatory certification of restaurateurs. This could be done by the state inspection bodies that also monitor farmers, trade and processing.

Mario Pulker, spokesman for the catering industry in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), is outraged. “I reject this in the strongest possible terms. Yes, of course the controls look to see if a dish is listed as organic on the menu, and whether it is also shown on the delivery notes and invoices,” he said angrily on Ö1’s “Mittagsjournal”. It was “far-fetched to say that you buy ten ducks and only five of them are organic”. That would damage reputation and credit. Pulker vehemently opposed the portrayal of the Austrian catering industry as fraudsters and even suggested legal action against it.

“We care about fairness”

According to the radio report, the devil is in the details. There are organic restaurateurs and there are those who only have individual organic products on the menu. The Greens’ proposal now stipulates that normal restaurateurs can only buy organic goods up to a sum of 10,000 euros, said Pulker. But that is unrealistic. The sum seems too small to him in view of large events and, in his opinion, is also associated with too much bureaucracy.

Pulker accuses Bio Austria of only being interested in promoting its certification. Bio Austria rejects this accusation: “We are concerned with fairness.”

The office of Economics Minister Martin Kocher of the ÖVP told ORF that they had already responded to the Greens’ proposals in May, but had not received a response so far. They fear there will be too much bureaucracy. When asked today, the Green Health Ministry said that the concerns of the Economics Ministry are largely incomprehensible.

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Source: Nachrichten

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