The country of origin shall be indicated for fresh vegetables and fruit. This helps ensure the safety and quality of the products and prevents possible misleading of the consumer. Consumers are advised to buy strawberries from vendors who clearly indicate the country of origin of the berries on the sales information sign, trays and packages.
The requirements for labelling and for the content of the documents accompanying the lot of food are purposed to ensure that information about the origin of the berries in each lot remains unchanged until it reaches the consumer. Every food sector operator in the chain of primary production, distribution and sales is responsible for the provision of correct information on each lot. For example, the requirement for the lot marking ensures, for its part, that information remains unchanged across the entire chain of operators. Authorities can also utilise the lot marking to retrace the delivery chain of the lot fairly precisely.
The lot marking shall be preceded by the letter "L", unless the marking is otherwise clearly distinguishable from other information. Expressions related to durability such as "best before" and date, or "use by" and date can be used instead of the lot marking. The day and the month, at least, shall be indicated in this case, and specifically in that order.
Labelling is mandatory on packages with lids
Strawberry packages must bear the following particulars clearly marked: the name, country of origin, and packager of the product, lot marking, net quantity, and quality class. Open cardboard boxes containing a few kilograms of berries are also considered to be packages. If there is no lid on a box, the name of the product need not be indicated. The information provided shall also indicate the net quantity of the berries (e.g. 250 g, 500 g, 2 kg, 5 kg).
A sign to be posted in immediate vicinity of berries sold loose
The country of origin and the quality class shall be indicated also for strawberries sold loose. The information must be provided clearly in writing. A picture of the Finnish flag shown at the stall, for example, is not an adequate indication of the country of origin.
The majority of strawberries sold are of class I. Strawberries in class I are required to be fresh, intact and clean. Even in class II, strawberries may not be affected by rotting or deterioration, and shall be free from mould and soil.
Strawberries picked in the strawberry farms directly into the packages in which they are sold retain their quality better than loose berries poured onto the stall table and then scooped into a plastic bag for the customer. Considering also the possibility of misleading information, Finnish Food Authority recommends that selling strawberries in packages is favoured over pouring the berries onto the stall table.
Top way to verify the origin of strawberries
Before buying strawberries, it is worth to check that the name and contact information of the vendor is clearly shown at the stall. The strawberry seller must know the vendor that packaged the berries they sell. Strawberries farmed in Finland are packed at the farm directly into sales packages which means the farmer is usually the packager and the address shown indicates where the berries were farmed.
When strawberries are sold directly to consumers at the farm or consumers pick the berries themselves, there is very rarely any doubt about the origin or quality of the berries. Contact information for farms selling directly to consumers can be found online using search terms "direct sales + strawberries" (in Finnish, "suoramyynti + mansikka").
Controlled by municipalities, ELY Centres and Finnish Food Authority
The indications of origin for vegetables and fruit are controlled by municipal food control authorities, as well as the inspectors of Finnish Food Authority and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Municipal food control authorities control also all other information provided on the products to the consumers. The inspectors of Finnish Food Authority and the ELY Centres control also the quality of vegetables and fruit (validity of indicated quality class).