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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.

 

Certification bodies

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.