Organic Food and Farming Certification
On June 30, 2009 the Canadian government implemented the Organic Products Regulation to regulate organic certification in Canada for organic products. Details on this new regulation are available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Canada Organic Office website and at http://canadagazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2009/2009-06-24/html/sor-dors176-eng.html.
The regulations require mandatory certification to the revised Canadian Organic Standards (Canadian Organic Production Systems Standards: General Principles and Management Standards and the Permitted Substances Lists) for agricultural products represented as organic in import, export and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the federal organic agricultural product legend (or logo). Exported products may also be regulated by the importing country. Products produced and sold with in the same province are not regulated by this regulation unless they are using the new federal organic logo. It is expected however that many buyers of organic products may require producers to certify their organic products as a market requirement.
On June 17, 2009, Canada and the USA entered into an arrangement recognizing our national organic systems to be equivalent (subject to several exceptions). Under this agreement all Canadian organic products shipped to the USA must meet the requirements of the new Canadian Organic Regulations. For more details see www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/orgbioimporte.shtml.
The Canadian Standard for Organic Agriculture was first approved by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) in 1999. The "Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards for Canada" and the "Permitted Substances List" were written in 2006 and revised in 2008 and 2009 and can be obtained (no charge) from www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/ongc-cgsb/internet/index-eng.html . These standards are referenced by the new Organic Products Regulations.
In Ontario there are several certification bodies (CB) that certify organic farms and food processing operations. Growers or processors wanting to be certified should contact one of the appropriate certification bodies and obtain a copy of the certification standards before they start the transition to organic production. For farms this may be 3-4 years before the production and sale of the certified organic products.
An inspection is required on farms in the year before certification and operators must apply to their certification body at least 15 months before harvest of the organic products. In the year of anticipated certification (and annually thereafter), application should be made to the certification body in the early spring to allow for timely review of the applications and to allow the CB to arrange for inspections during the growing season. Inspectors for organic certifications are independent from the certification bodies and most are members of the Independent Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA)
Under the new regulations all accredited CBs must adhere to the Canadian standard as the minimum requirement for all organic certification agencies in Canada. The Canadian Organic Standard also includes the Permitted Substances List - PSL. The PSL indicates which generic substances can be used as inputs to produce organic products to that standard. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is used by some CB's to advise on input products that qualify for use in organic systems. OMRI has a comprehensive list of substances and products on their website www.omri.org which have been reviewed for compliance to the US standards. The Organic Federation of Canada also has information on a Directory of Brand Name Inputs allowed in organic agriculture (www.organicfederation.ca/canadian-directory-brand-name-input-allowed-organic-agriculture). Always check with your certification body on the appropriateness of inputs in your organic system. Using non-permitted substances and input products will jeopardize your ability to certify your product.
A complete list of Canadian accredited Conformity Verification Bodies (CVB) is available at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/cvbliste.shtml. The CVB is responsible to assess, recommend the accreditation and to monitor the Certification Bodies (CB). A complete list of CBs accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to certify organic products under the Organic Products Regulations, 2009 (both domestic and globally) can be found at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/cbliste.shtml. The following are CBs accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and known to be operating in Ontario.
Certification Bodies in Ontario
Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. (formerly OCPP/Pro-Cert Canada Inc.),
Pro-Cert provides organic certification and verification services beyond the farm gate for client producers and processors in Canada and the USA. Pro-Certs production certification procedures are available on their website.
Contact: Simon Jacques
Contact: France Gravel
GarantieBio and Ecocert are trademarks for the Ecocert Canada organic certification program. Our goal is to offer organic producers, processors and distributors an independent and private certification service.
QAI's programs verify organic integrity at each link of the product handling chain, helping to assure compliance with organic standards for agricultural producers, food processing facilities, integrated manufacturing operations, contract packing operations, traders, distributors, retailers, and ultimately, for consumers. The company includes operations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the European Union. For more information, visit www.qai-inc.com.
CSI, the Centre for Systems Integration (a division of the Canadian Seed Institute), provides organic certification services to farmers and processors across Canada. CSI is accredited by CFIA and offers certification to the Canadian Organic Standard. CSI also offers certification to the JAS Organic Standards for export of product to Japan; we also offer certification to the EU organic regulations and the NOP.
Annie Houde, Eastern Canada Office
OCIA is a non-profit membership organization providing 3rd party certification of all stages of organic production, processing and distribution to members throughout North, Central and South America and Asia. Back issues of their Newsletter as well as the OCIA Certification Standards are on their website at www.ocia.org.
Current Accreditations of Certification Bodies
For export trade recognition and for Organic Products Regulation accreditation purposes many of the certification bodies have been accredited by various accreditation bodies (agencies) to various standards including ISO Guide 65. The following table shows the accreditations that are known for the CBs operating in Ontario.
Certification Verification Bodies such as the ones listed above operate to ISO-17011 standards and accredit Certification Bodies to ISO Guide 65 standards.
For information on the certification of organic products in Quebec, see CARTV - Le Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants (CARTV).
There are many international standards. Many countries have their own standards and negotiate equivalency agreements between countries. Two additional standards of note are International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and CODEX Alimentarius.
For links to Canadian and International standards and regulations see the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website at http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1183748510661&lang=eng and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Canada Organic Office website.
There are also links to Organic certification bodies in the USA on the following websites:
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