A new system of electronic certification has come into force to better monitor imports of organic products to the EU.
It is hoped that the pioneering e-certification system, which was launched on 19 April, will contribute to enhancing food safety provisions and reducing potential fraud through improved traceability.
The system will also reduce the administrative burden on operators and authorities, as well as providing more comprehensive data on organic imports.
Both paper and e-certification will be used during a 6-month transition period and from 19 October 2017 organic imports will be covered by e-certification alone.
EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan said: "Our commitment to stringent certification and inspection measures is an important component in the EU's food safety standards.
“These high standards have allowed us to become the best address for food in the world, but we must always strive to find new and better ways to do even more.
“These new rules will improve the traceability of organic products, which is an important growing market."
In practical terms, the changes will require the addition of the new import certificates into the Trade Control & Expert System (TRACES) – the existing EU electronic system for tracking movements of food products across the EU.
Accessible 24/7, the TRACES system was designed to help trade partners and competent authorities to access information on the movements of their consignments, and speed up administrative procedures.
It has also helped the fresh produce industry react rapidly to health threats by tracing the movements of consignments and facilitating the risk management of rejected consignments.