Inspection and certification
The use of a Controlled Designation of Origin (AOC) or of a Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) is possible only if the product is in conformity to the requisites of the specifications. In order for the specification s t o be credible, it is necessary that a neutral or independent body (certification body) checks whether the production, processing, and product development conditions established in the specifications are actually observed (art. 18 of the decree on AOC and IGP products). The principles of such an inspection are laid down in Decree RS 910.124 of the DFE (Federal Department of the Economy) of 11 June 1999 on inspection of AOC and IGP.
Guarantees offered through inspection
- Observance of the production process (production conditions and procedures).
- Product traceability: the origin of each AOC or IGP must be known.
- Inspection of all registered AOP or IGP products: the AOP and IGP statuses must not be used for products not subject to the inspection system.
- Typical characteristics of the product.
Types of inspections carried out
Regular inspections at the production sites to verify production conditions.
- Physical and chemical analysis of the products to check their composition.
- Annual organoleptic evaluations (tastings) in order to verify the typical flavour of products of each production unit.
- Compatibility tests to verify the company's proper management.
Surprise inspections on the production site at least every two years (minimum requisite of the decree on AOC and IGP inspection). In reality, the inspections are carried out more often.
The responsibility of inspections is entrusted to the neutral and independent certification bodies chosen by the applicant groups. These certification bodies must be in conformance with the European regulation EN 45011, which positions itself among the ISO standards of European Union countries, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. The certification bodies are accredited in Switzerland by the Federal Office of Metrology and Accreditation (METAS), in conformity to the criteria of independence, impartiality, and competence.
The certification body chosen for a product must have a general framework of the AOC or IGP chain of production. It organizes the required inspections in such a way that the production and manufacturing stages are checked. It must be able to evaluate if the AOC or IGP product is in full conformity to the specifications. Should it be found that some requisites are not followed, the right to protected designation may be revoked from or the producer.
In order to guarantee the system's reliability, the inspections are subject to the supervision of the Swiss accreditation service and the Federal Office for Agriculture who will give their approval of the system's putting into operation and regularly verify its application.