4 min.

For genuine organic foods - look at the label

Nia Karadjova |

For genuine organic foods - look at the label

Tsvetan Tsvetkov

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a report last week that the system for control over the production and market placing of organic foods did not protect sufficiently the interests of consumers. The Office audited the control system in the period between January 2016 and June 2017. Other conclusions include the granting of licences to organic farmers, which is found to be inefficient, as well as the lack of enough supervision from monitoring authorities. Consumers are not aware of the labelling requirements for organic foods and their identification.

The National Audit Office (NAO) is the highest auditing institution in Bulgaria, which oversees state and municipal budget appropriations, and it also monitors all issues that are directly affecting the well being of citizens. The explore the measures to deal with air pollution, youth unemployment, fire safety, climate changes, among others.

Standart newspaper spoke to the chairman of NAO Tsvetan Tsvetkov. He graduated the University of National and World Economy with a master's degree in book-keeping and accountancy. Tsvetkov used to be the director of the State Internal Control Agency with the Ministry of Finance. On March 26 2015 he was elected by the National sssembly to be the new chairman of NAO.

Mr Tsvetkov, the last NAO audit – on the control of the production of organic and bio foods – shows that consumers must be better protected. What have you found out?

Our audit shows that there is a lack of sufficient control over the production and online sale of bio foods and products, and restaurants are hardly check for their offering of organic foods because of the absence of proper legislation. The monitoring has been conducted under a European Union directive, which posits that each member country must build its own system of rules. The organisation of this whole process in Bulgaria is as follows: companies are the controlling authorities and they have been granted permits by the minister of agriculture to monitor the entire production cycle. A department with the Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Forests (MAFF) is the overall monitoring authority. Another controlling institution is the Bulgarian food Safety Agency (BFSA).
Is there a risk of owners selling foods as organic, while they are not?
This is exactly our concern – there may be dishonest people and companies that would not stick to the rules for organic production. There also other holes in the protective wall that would allow non-organic foods and products to be sold as organic because of the lucrative price. At the same time, this type of agriculture produce has been on the rise and it is beneficial, including as a measure to protect the natural resources...

What is the most important thing that people buying bio foods must know?

Turns out that consumers are not informed enough of the requirements for labelling organic foods. The guarantee that foods are 'bio' must be in the marking with obligatory marks and symbols on the label. Therefore, consumers must be cautious whether there is a code pointing the permit issued by the minister of agriculture and foods to the company that controls the respective producer and/or trader, like the EU symbol of bio products. If products do not come from the EU, the symbol and markings are not compulsory. If no signs and marking are found at all, then consumers must inform the BFSA. The Agency's role in sanctioning and banning irregular goods and sellers from the market is certain to make the use of bio foods more reliable.


Lately, the NAO has been monitoring more and more activities that are of direct concern to the citizens. Why is that and is it a sign of change in the institution's goals?

One of the priorities of NAO is to register the society's expectations on issues that directly affect it. This priority was inscribed in the Strategy for the Development of the NAO for the period of 2018-2022. We have earmarked 15 strategic goals that our institution must achieve to be of more use to the community. Enhancing the control of the public resources' appropriation that we are aspiring to achieve in our work must lead to secure better standard of living for the population. Strategy must sound as an abstract term to you, however we have the ambition to provide a better example of how other institutions and local authorities have to obtain an improved management culture that includes responsibility and transparency.


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