Report on the Organic Monitoring Program of Baden-Württemberg 2014

Analytical Results from Organic Food Investigations Summary of Organic Monitoring Report, 2014


In 2014, the following issues were addressed:


Following is a summary of the results from 2014.


Cover image.


Genetically Modified Plants

Genetic modifications, as before, were rarely detected in organic foods. As in previous years, only soy was affected. The percentage of positive organic soy samples as well as their level of genetic contamination was significantly lower than that of conventional soy. For honey, in contrast to previous years, no genetic modification was detected, neither in organic, nor in conventional honey.


Residues from Pesticides and Contaminants in Plant-based Foods

As in previous years, there was a large difference between fruit and vegetables of organic and conventional production in terms of frequency of residue findings and quantities of chemical/synthetic pesticides. More than half of the organically grown samples were free of pesticide residues. For those with residues, usually only single substances in trace amounts (< 0.01 mg/kg) were detected, significantly lower than the concentrations found on crops that have been treated with such substances. The average amount of pesticide residues in all of the organic fruit samples was 0.005 mg/kg; all of the samples labelled as organic, including those that were falsely labelled, were included in the calculation. When the samples that were in violation, under the suspicion that they were either 100 %, or had been cut with, conventional goods, were excluded from the calculation, the average was 0.002 mg/kg. Conventional fruit, in contrast, contained 0.42 mg residues of pesticide per kg fruit, excluding the surface treatment substances phosphonic acid and bromide, an average 80 times higher than that of organic fruit. Organically grown vegetables contained an average of 0.001 mg/kg. Conventional vegetables, on the other hand, contained on average 0.32 mg pesticide residues pro kg (excluding bromide and fosetyl), a rate approximately 320 times higher than that of organic vegetables.

In 2014 a total of three samples of fresh organic fruit were registered as being fraudulent. The organic labeling of two apples (Germany and unknown origin) and one peach (Spain) was judged as misleading due to the high amount of pesticide residues detected. There were no violations among the fresh organic vegetables; all samples were in compliance with the valid MRL given by Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005. Altogether, the rate of violations from all fresh organic produce in the last few years has stabilized: 1.3 % in 2014, 2.8 % in 2013, 4.2 % in 2012, 2.1 % in 2011, and 1.3 % in 2010.

The rate of violations among processed organic foods was about double that of fresh (2.9 % to 1.3 %) in 2014. In the two years before, the rates were similar, at 3.5 % and 3.4 %, but much lower than in the years 2011 and 2010 (8. % and 6.3 % respectively). One must consider, however, that from year to year different, short-term projects on specific, targeted issues are conducted on the organic products, thus limiting meaningful comparisons. In addition, due to certain processing factors, residues in the final product can be either higher or lower than in the original, fresh product
In 2014 only one sample of processed fruit (sour cherries in a glass jar) and one of processed cereal (whole-grain rye bread) were registered. In both cases, the labeling of the products as organic was judged to be misleading, due to elevated levels of pesticide residues. All samples were in compliance with the valid MRL set by Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005.

Residues of the substances and contaminants phosphonic acid, chlorate and perchlorate were analyzed separately; due to their special characteristics in terms of occurrence, application and analysis and because they present a new problematic, they require special attention.


Residues of Organic Contaminants, Pesticides and Biocides in Foods of Animal Origin

Contamination from organochlorines and nitromusk compounds has significantly declined in the last decades. Many of these compounds have been banned since the 1970s. Contamination from brominated organic compounds is low, although the use of these compounds has only been regulated for a few years. The results from this year’s organic monitoring confirm this. In salmon and milk products made of sheep and goat milk mainly the residues of ubiquitous, persistent compounds could be detected – those that still end up in the food chain via environmental contamination. The findings, especially in the milk products made from sheep and goat milk, lay far under the legally established MRL.

In reporting year 2014 special attention was placed on the quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) benzalkonium chloride (BAC) and didecyldimethalammonium chloride (DDAC). As the analyses of the two food groups of animal origin show, there are significant differences between organically and conventionally produced products. QAC residues were found almost exclusively in conventionally produced products. In addition, salmon was tested for the presence of ethoxyquin and its corresponding dimer. All of the analyzed conventional salmon samples had conspicuous findings. However, only one of the 13 analyzed organic salmon samples was detected with ethoxyquin. The sample of wild salmon contained no ethoxyquin.


Dioxins and PCB in Foods

Dioxins and PCBs are chlororganic compounds that are especially persistent throughout the environment.
Dioxins are poisonous and can have toxic effects, depending on the dosage. They exist world-wide and, due to their high fat solubility, accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and humans. For this reason, it is especially important for the protection of consumers to permanently monitor food for these substances, in order to keep exposure to dioxins and PCBs at a long-term minimum. In 2014, within the framework of the organic monitoring program, a total of 141 samples of chicken eggs, salmon and milk products made with sheep and goat milk were analyzed for the presence of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, and indicator PCBs. Only one of the total 70 samples of chicken eggs was detected with an amount of dioxin that, taking the expanded measurement uncertainty into account, was above the valid MRL. Moreover, no exceedances of MRLs occurred. One sample of chicken egg, with consideration of the expanded measurement uncertainty, exceeded the valid trigger value for dioxins. Another sample of chicken egg presented a numerical exceedance of the trigger value for dioxin-like PCB. All 39 samples of salmon, taking the expanded measurement uncertainty into account, lie under the authorized MRL and trigger value. Also, all 32 samples of milk products made from sheep and goat milk contained amounts of dioxins and PCB under the legal MRL. A numerical exceedance of the trigger value for dioxin-like PCBs was found in one sample of goat cream cheese and one sample of goat yogurt.

Quantities of dioxins and PCBs were detected in levels under the valid MRLs and trigger values in 95 % of the samples analyzed in 2014. Organic products tended to have higher amounts of dioxins and PCBs than conventional products in all three test groups: chicken eggs, salmon and milk products made from sheep and goat milk. The contamination of food with dioxins and PCBs is heavily dependent on the particular environmental situation; the method of production, whether conventional or organic, has only limited influence. Equally limited is the possibility for the producer to influence the level of contamination in food. A detailed presentation of all investigative results, as well as a depiction of the residue amounts in chicken eggs itemized by the rearing method (free-range vs. barn), can be found in a current Internet report published by CVUA Freiburg.


Authenticity Verification with Help of Stable Isotope Analytic

The special quality of organic products lies in the processing, that is, the method with which they are produced. Corresponding legal provisions for organic production established by the EU are at the core of organic monitoring. In addition, valid procedures such as the stable isotope analytic make the discovery of false declarations possible, which is very important for the verification of authenticity of organic food. This approach has proven to be a very promising method for distinguishing between organic and conventionally produced products. An investigative program was carried out within the framework of organic monitoring and a research project promoted by the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection in Baden Württemberg to ascertain compliance with EU guidelines regarding the use of mineral nitrogen fertilizers in organic farming. The stable isotope analytic can give indications of an unauthorized application of mineral nitrogen fertilizer on organic products, thereby making it possible to recognize products that were falsely labelled as organic.

A suitable parameter for analytically differentiating between organically and conventionally produced milk has been found in the combination of the carbon-stable isotope ratio (δ13C-Wert) and the α-linolenic acid content of the milk fat. These measurement values differ to varying degrees, depending on the feed of the dairy animals. Building on the results of a research project supported by the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection in Baden Württemberg, 64 samples of milk (35 organic, 29 conventional) were analyzed within the scope of the organic monitoring program in 2014. None of the milk samples were found with any values of due concern.



Raw milk cheese, especially from organic production, is becoming more and more popular. However, harmful bacteria can get into food, either from the raw milk where bacteria is not killed, or during the process of making the cheese. The Chemical and Veterinary Investigations Offices of Baden-Württemberg microbiologically analyzed a total of 65 samples of raw milk cheese for harmful bacteria and hygiene-indicative bacteria. The samples consisted of 34 organic and 31 conventional raw milk products. Most of the cheese samples came from Germany (76 % of the organic and 48 % of the conventional cheese); the rest came from neighboring countries within the EU, such as France, Austria and Switzerland. Only two samples of conventional raw milk cheese were detected with harmful bacteria that can cause illnesses in humans. The remaining cheese samples were microbiologically unremarkable.


Textiles – Pesticide Residues and Genetic Modifications

In this reporting year a total of 23 samples of cotton textiles, including T-shirts, baby clothes, underclothes and nightwear were analyzed for pesticides in Baden-Württemberg. We are happy to report that residues of plant protection substances and biocides were found in only very small amounts. In addition to the pesticide analyses, cotton and cotton yarn was also investigated for genetic modification, because 70 percent of the cotton grown worldwide is genetically modified. Genetic modification was detected in 4 out of 9 samples of largely unprocessed raw cotton (picked cotton) that were declared to be organic. All of the organic cotton samples with evident genetic modification came from India. However, no genetic engineering is to be expected in organic textiles. Therefore, international standards for the processing of textiles preclude the use of genetically modified cotton, as stated in their directives.



Detailed information (including results tables) can be found in the German version of the monitoring report .
If you have any questions concerning the report on the Organic Monitoring Program of Baden-Württemberg, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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Report published on 19.06.2015 09:27:43