68 companies have been found to mislabel products as organic, earning tens of thousands in Dutch shops along the way.
Coffee, meat, honey, chocolate, and vegetables all did not meet the proper regulations for organic products in the Netherlands, described by a Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) report covering 2015 – 2018 from two watchdog organisations. “This shows that there is a substantial problem and that it is happening systematically,” says VU University criminologist Wim Huisman. Of the 68 companies, research showed that 58 were involved in cases on “misleading the public” while 10 were responsible for more serious cases, like fraud. “People who buy organic food pay a higher price for produce which is animal and environment-friendly, food scientist Gertjan Schaafsma said. “If there is fraud, these people are being ripped off,” says food scientist Gertjan Schaafsma.
Of all the cases, only 1 is being investigated by public prosecutors and calls from farmers to the government to take a tougher approach to tackle fraud have fallen on deaf ears, with the NVWA claiming a lack of staff and resources to focus on cases outside of food safety. The current incidents revolve more around issues of animal welfare, the use of medicines and the environment.