EU tells Spain stop calling non-organic food \"bio\"
BRUSSELS - Spain has two months to rid shop shelves of \"bio\" labels on non-organic foods or the European Commission will take them to court, a European Union official said yesterday.
The word \"bio\" is often used in Europe to show food is organic - grown without using synthetic chemicals.
The Commission said brands sold in Spain like \"Bio Danone\" , and \"Bio Calcio Nestle\" yoghurts were not organic.
The Spanish argue that they do not need to explain the term \"bio\" on their product-labels because the term does not imply organic in their language, an EU offical said.
The EU offers incentives and has strict rules to encourage organic farming in the 15-nation bloc, according to Gregor Kreuzhuber, spokesman for EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler.
\"We want to ensure that products labelled \"eco,\" or \"bio\" or \"organic\" are truly organically produced so that they are not misleading to consumers, and boost the credibility of EU organic products,\" Kreuzhuber said.
However, Belgium and some other countries can legally continue to use the \"bio\" label on non-organic foods because the trademark was registered there before July 1991. The products may be sold under those names until 2006 as long the label clearly states they are not actually organic, an EU official said.
Spain received its first official Commission warning in July 2001 but it denied any breach of EU organic labelling laws, the Commission said.
Story by Niamh Keegan
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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