KUALA LUMPUR: All organic vegetables and fruits in the market must carry the government-approved label from Jan 1 so consumers will know what they are paying for.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based industries Minister Chua Tee Yong said the ruling would enable consumers to differentiate between what was organic and what was not.
Consumers now have to depend on the retailers’ word on whether or not an item is organic, especially for vegetables or fruits that were not pre-packed, he said.
Chua said only farms which had been inspected and certified by the ministry were allowed to use the label-SOM (skim organik Malaysia) on their products.
He said the ministry would inspect the farms every six months to ensure they complied with its standards and guidelines.
“Organic vegetables and fruits are priced several times higher than those grown in conventional farms because of the stringent requirements and high production costs.
“The labelling can help deter false claims,” he said here yesterday.
Chua said there were 42 organic farms in the country with a total land size of over 2,000ha, compared to some 200,000ha used for conventional farming.
Chua said consumption of organic products would rise in tandem with the country’s development, the people’s spending power, health and environmental awareness.
Chua said the labelling of the organic products comes under Regulations 18(7) under Food Regulations 1985, and those found guilty of non-compliance can be fined up to RM5,000 per case.
The enforcement of the regula-tion would be done in collabo- ration between the Department of Agriculture and Health Ministry.