New Fact Sheet Clarifies Organics and Certification Process
SAN DIEGO, CA – To help consumers better understand organic products, Quality Assurance International (QAI) today announced that a new organic fact sheet is available online.
The new fact sheet clarifies the definition of organic as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) and what the organic certification process entails. It also helps consumers understand what it means for a food product to be organic.
“When a product bears the USDA Organic and QAI seals, a consumer can be assured that the product meets the requirements set forth by the USDA National Organic Program,” said Jackie Bowen, QAI General Manager. “A key part of our mission at QAI is education, and this new guide provides consumers with information that they can use to make informed decisions when purchasing organic products.”
The fact sheet is based on information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Organic Program (NOP) and the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The fact sheet includes several frequently asked questions such as the following:
What is organic?
What does organic certification require?
What do USDA organic standards and regulations include?
What is the National Organic Standard Board?
· Who regulates certified organic claims?
A key point consumers may want to understand according to the OTA is, “Supporting organic farmers, no matter where they are on the planet, helps to take care of the water and soil that sustain all life. Going forward, we will continue to educate consumers on the organic process and how organic certification of that process supports a more sustainable planet.”
Organic certification is rigorous; certified clients that grow and process organic products are first required to have an organic system plan for production and to maintain documentation on how they grow and process organic products. A certifier conducts a technical review, which includes examination of documentation on product protection, water use, cleaning, sanitation, facility pest management and record keeping. On-site audits confirm that the organic practices explained in the client’s documentation are actually occurring at the site. Annual audits are conducted to ensure continued compliance with the NOP.
Similarly, USDA-accredited certifiers, such as QAI, are also held to very stringent requirements. The USDA NOP conducts annual audits on the certifiers, to ensure continued compliance with the NOP.
QAI’s USDA-accredited certification process is based on the NOP requirements. This certification process ensures that every point of the supply chain is certified organic – beginning at the farm where the product is grown, to when it is packaged and placed on a grocery store shelf.
In order for a product to be grown in or imported into the U.S. and carry the USDA organic seal, a food product must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier to ensure it meets the NOP requirements. This law provides consumers with confidence that when they purchase organic products, those products meet the stringent requirements set forth by the USDA.
For additional information on organic products or the organic certification process, go to QAI’s Website.
Quality Assurance International (QAI, Inc.), the global leader in certification services, has operations in the U.S., Canada, Japan and the European Union. Clients include agricultural producers, food processing facilities, integrated manufacturing operations and contract packing operations, traders, distributors, retailers, and other unique food operations. QAI’s programs are designed to verify compliance at every link of the product handling chain, thus assuring consumers that product integrity is preserved in the marketplace.