The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warned Friday of the circulation of a fraudulent National Organic Program (NOP) organic certificate produced by an uncertified operation in South Africa.
Last month, the NOP warned industry of the circulation of another fraudulent organic certificate produced by an uncertified operation in China.
Reported to the NOP by accredited certifying agent, Quality Assurance International (QAI), the South Africa certificate falsely represents agricultural products as certified organic under the NOP regulations.
The agency said QAI is not responsible for the production of the certificate. To see the fraudulent South Africa certificate, click here.
The NOP said it has not found evidence that any product was sold, labeled, or represented as organic using the fraudulent certificate.
Any use of the certificate or other fraudulent documents, to market, label, or sell non-organic agricultural products as organic can result in a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
"Certifier vigilance is helping to bring isolated incidents like this to the surface," said Miles McEvoy, NOP deputy administrator. "We believe that by reporting fraudulent certificates to the public we will prevent similar types of activity in the future."
The certificate contains the following identifying information:
• Certified entity and location: EMN TRADING LTD, 130 Biccard Street Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa
• Type of operation: Handler (Distributor)
• Certificate number: 105895-B
• Product listed as certified: Organic Demerara Sugar
• USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: Quality Assurance International (QAI)
• Certificate issue location and date: Johannesburg, South Africa, 8 January 2011