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Canadian Food Inspection Agency peer review report on Switzerland's organic system – 2017
Executive summary

This report summarizes observations made during the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) May 2017 on-site assessment of the Swiss Organic Program.

The objective of the assessment was to determine the extent to which the Swiss competent authority, that is the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) demonstrates conformity with the requirements specified in the Switzerland-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (SCOEA).

The assessment was conducted from May 8 to May 12, 2017 at sites in three different cantons. It included meetings with the competent authority, two primary production units (farms), 2 multi- ingredient processing facilities, 2 Control Bodies (CBs) and one Cantonal Food Safety Office.

The key elements of the assessment included the following:

  1. Authorities
    • Current food legislative authorities, including regulations, standards, codes of practice, and arrangements. In particular:
      • authority to recognize and accredit parties involved in the Swiss Organic Program
      • authority to carry out monitoring and surveillance activities
      • authority to respond to non-compliances where risk has been identified, for example, recalls, other control and enforcement activities
  2. Government organization and resources
    • The roles and responsibilities of the various government departments and authorities involved in the Swiss Organic Program.
    • The resources, responsibilities, functions, and coordination between the parties involved in the Swiss Organic Program.
    • Resources and competencies of the parties involved in the delivery of the Swiss Organic System.
  3. Third parties involved in the implementation of the Swiss Organic Program
    • Organizations responsible for the implementation of the Swiss Organic Program and their relationship with the FOAG.
  4. Inspection, enforcement and surveillance activities
    • The role of the FOAG, Cantonal Food Authorities (CA) and the CBs in inspection, surveillance, and enforcement.

The assessment determined that the FOAG has implemented a control system for the certification of organic operators that is supported by good collaboration between the FOAG, CAs and the CBs.

This system guarantees that all products certified under the Organic Farming Ordinance (OFO) can be exported and marketed in Canada as organic.

This report provides a number of recommendations which highlight opportunities for improvement and enhancement of the implementation of the Swiss Organic Program.

The observations and recommendations contained in this report are based on information provided to the assessment team through the Canadian peer review questionnaire, personal interviews, and on-site observation. They represent the collective understanding of the members of the assessment team.

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