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Canada Organic Regime operating manual
General information

Overview of the Canada Organic Regime (COR)

The COR is a non-traditional regime for the CFIA. The SFCR provide a federal program for the regulation of Canadian organic products. The COR is designed to build on the existing system of domestic accreditation and certification. The CFIA is the competent authority that oversees the COR governing the use of the Canada Organic Logo. The CFIA enters into agreements with Conformity verification bodies (CVBs) provided these bodies meet the criteria established by the SFCR and CFIA. For the purpose of the SFCR, the CVBs are designated by the CFIA to assess, recommend for accreditation and subsequently monitor certification bodies (CB) meeting the applicable accreditation criteria as set out in the SFCR.

The accredited CBs are responsible for the organic certification of food commodities and organic product packaging and labelling certification. CBs employ inspectors to assess the practices of organic operators to verify that they comply with the regulations. These inspectors are referred herein as verification officers (VO). The VO provides the results of their assessment to their CB for evaluation. The CB, in turn, certifies as organic only those products that comply with requirements of the regulations.

In order to facilitate the import/export activities and to verify that importing country requirements are equivalent or in compliance with the COR, an equivalency determination between Canada and another country shall be performed. Such determination may result in reducing the importing country's rate of verification and avoid additional certification in the country of origin.

The CFIA is responsible for compliance verification and enforcement of the regulations which activities include label inspections in the marketplace and audits of CVBs.

Building on the existing organic certification system, the SFCR set out the functions of the COR's 2 oversight bodies: CVBs and CBs.

In this document, the word "days" is only used when directly referencing a part of the SFCR that explicitly mentions a specified number of days (COR OM B.5.1-SFCR section 362, COR OM B.7.9-SFCR subsection 364(5) and COR OM B.7.10-SFCR paragraph 365(1)(a)). SFCR's use of "days" is interpreted as and understood to be "calendar days". All other parts of this document clearly specify "working days".


The documents listed below are those referenced by this document. At the time of publication, the editions indicated below were valid. As all documents are subject to revision, parties using this document are encouraged to apply the most recent editions of these documents published.

Additional accreditation criteria for bodies that evaluate quality management systems in companies whose operations are on multiple sites in order to certify their products – CAEQ, 2007

CAN/CGSB-32.310, Organic production systems general principles and management standards (to the extent these standards are incorporated by reference into the regulations and developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board)

CAN/CGSB-32.311, Organic production systems permitted substances list (as incorporated by reference into the regulations and developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board)

CAN/CGSB-32.312, Organic production systems: Aquaculture - General principles, management standards and permitted substances list (as incorporated by reference into the regulations and developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board)

Certifying operations with multiple production units, sites and facilities under the National Organic Program, formal recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to the National Organic Program, 2008

European Commission, Directorate H. sustainability and quality of agriculture and rural development, H.3 organic farming, Guidelines on imports of organic products into the European Union, Rev 1 dated 15.12.2008

IFOAM requirements for grower groups

ISO/IEC 17011: 2017 - Conformity assessment - Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies

ISO/IEC 17065: 2012 - Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services

SOR/2018-108, part 13 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (regulations made under the authority of the Safe Food for Canadians Act


Accreditation cycle
The period including the initial assessment or reassessment and the subsequent surveillance years
The Safe Food for Canadians Act
The CFIA established by section 3 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act responsible for the administration of the COR.
A systemic and independent examination to determine whether activities and related results comply with planned arrangements and whether these arrangements are implemented effectively and are suitable to achieve objectives.
Canada Organic Logo
"Product legend" as per SFCR Schedule 9, Clauses 350(1)(c)(i)(B) and (D), paragraph 354(d) and sections 358 and 359.
Canada Organic Regime (COR)
The Government of Canada regulated system for organic products.
The procedure whereby a CFIA accredited certification body provides written assurance that food commodities are organic as defined in and for the purposes of the SFCR. Certification of products may be based on a range of inspection activities including verification of management practices, auditing of quality assurance systems, and in/out production balances.
Certification Body (CB)
A body that is accredited as a CB in accordance with division 8 of part 13 of the SFCR, and CFIA shall accredit the applicant as a CB on the recommendation of the CVB.
Adherence with requirements of laws and government regulations, for example, part 13 of the SFCR.
Conformity Verification Body (CVB)
An entity that shall meet the requirements set out in ISO/IEC 17011 to be able to enter into an agreement with the CFIA under subsection 14(1) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act to assess, recommend the accreditation of and monitor the CB.
Genetically engineered /modified organisms (GMO)
Products produced through techniques in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.
Geographical proximity (with reference to grower group certification)
Access to the same collection or post-harvest handling facilities, and/or common soils, water source, slope, topography or other physical features.
Group certification
Certification of an organized group of producers with a central office, similar farming and production system working according to a common internal quality management system, which is established and subject to continued surveillance by the central office. Group certification applies to the group as a whole. Certificate is issued to the central office of the group and shall not be used by a single group member.
Internal Control System (ICS)
A documented internal quality system within a grower group that allows an external CB to delegate the annual inspection of any group members to an identified body or unit within the grower group.
Involves the gathering of evidence and information, from a variety of sources, relevant to a suspected violation or offence and is intended to refute the defence of due diligence and/or establish intent.
Multi-ingredient product
A type of food commodity composed of 2 or more food commodities.
Occurrence of a condition that does not conform to the specifications of the prescribed standards (CAN/CGSB-32.310, CAN/CGSB-32.312, CAN/CGSB-32.311, ISO 17065, ISO 17011 and Part 13 of the SFCR).
Organic product
An food commodity that has been certified as organic in accordance with part 13 of the SFCR or that has been recognized as such under section 2 of the Safe Food for Canadians Act.
Opportunity for Improvement (OFI)
OFI is an opportunity to improve the organization's operating efficiency however if not addressed it might lead to a future nonconformity.
Part 13 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
These are the regulations referred to throughout the COR Operating Manual.
Small farm (with reference to grower group certification)
Both: a. farm where the cost of external certification is 2% or more of their annual gross revenue, and b. less than 50 acres.
Verification audit
The purpose of a verification audit conducted by the CVB is to check the accuracy and thoroughness of the most recent inspection although it also offers an opportunity for an operator to comment on his inspection or the overall performance of the certification body should they wish to do so. In a verification audit, the CVB auditor repeats part or the whole of the physical inspection in company with the operator and compares any findings with that of the inspector as recorded in the inspection report. Short, partial checks of records are usually included as well.
Verification officer (VO)
Person assigned by the certification body to conduct inspections and having the requisite qualifications and experience to conduct inspections for the purposes of the regulations.
Witness audit (by CFIA)
The COR audit team witnesses the activities of the CVB auditor during the initial assessment and the monitoring of a CB.
Witness audit (by the CVB)
The purpose of a witness audit conducted by the CVB is to assess the quality of an inspector's performance through observing an inspection in process. An evaluation is made of the degree to which the inspector follows the policies and procedures of the certification body with regard to the application of scheme requirements by the operator. It is also an opportunity to observe the thoroughness with which inspectors investigate issues and the degree to which they are familiar with the reference standard. Auditors should remain silent during a witness audit although inspectors may be questioned further in private following the conclusion of the inspection. Inspectors should at any rate receive a short exit interview during which they may clarify any unclear issues and are informed of any points that the auditor intends to raise in the report.

Revision history

Table 1: Revision history of this manual
Version Date Reason for the revision Scope of the revision
- Feb 2007 Draft of the Canada Organic Office Quality Management System (COO QMS) manual sent for peer review The entire document
- Jun 20, 2007 Feedback from the peer review incorporated in the COO QMS Manual The entire document
- Sep 11, 2007 Feedback from the consultation with the industry The entire document
- Oct 2008 CFIA comments Part A
- Jan 30, 2009 (not released) Amendments to the 2006 Organic Products Regulations The entire document
V11 Nov 2009 (not released) Consultation with the CVBs
  • Modifications to part B:
  • Accreditation under the COR
  • Modifications to part C;
  • Certification under the COR
V12 Dec 2009 (not released) Additional comments from the CVBs
  • Modifications to part B:
  • Accreditation under the COR
  • Modifications to part C;
  • Certification under the COR
V13 Jun 11, 2010 Edited for style and numbering of document. Include comments from CVBs and CFIA. New part on grower group requirements. New part on the Standards Interpretation Committee.
  • The entire document
  • New part F
  • New part G
V14 June 26, 2012 Many editorial changes, addition of some new clauses and requirements The entire document.
V15 March 12, 2018 Many editorial changes.
  • Removal of parts E and F and modifications to Preface,
  • References, Definitions,
  • parts A, B and C.10. Moving part F under C.12.
V16 January 15, 2019 Removal of part D and updates to part C due to SFCR coming into force.
  • Removal of part D and changes to part C.
  • All references to the Organic Products Regulations are changed to part 13 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
  • New definitions were added.
V17 April 04, 2019
  • Added 2 new appendices to provide clarification on the interpretation of part 13 of the SFCR relating to issuing organic certification, and enforcing and managing nonconformities under the COR.
  • Editorial changes to the manual post-SFCR updates.
  • Appendix C: The family of certification documents.
  • Appendix D: CB management of NC and enforcement actions under the COR.
  • Added a new section B.3.17 and new additional content to section A.4.4.
  • Editorial changes to part A, B and C, and the reference section of the manual.
V18 July 2020 Added 3 new appendices (E, F and G) to provide clarification on the interpretation of part 13 of the SFCR. Minor editorial revisions throughout parts B and C. Part B and C, appendices
V18 (revised) January 2021 Text corrected in 1st policy step Appendix F
V18 (revised) February 2021 "The applicable type of certification" updated to match Canada Organic Standard wording C.2.4.4
V18 (revised) June 2021 Various edits to text A.3, A.3.4, A.4.7-A.12, B.3.13, C.2.4.4 (3rd bullet), and deleted A.13-A.14
V18 (revised) July 2021
  • All references to "days" are now "working days"
  • B.7.11 elaborated
A.6.17, B.7.9, B.7.10, B.7.11, C.2.3.1
V18 (revised) June 2022 All references to "days" are now "working days" Appendix D
V19 June 2023 Significant changes to sections on grower group, certification C.2.4.4, and certificate template. All references to "days" are now "working days" except for B.5.1, B.7.9 and B.7.10. Minor editorial revisions throughout parts A, B and C and appendices. Parts A, B, C and appendices
V19 (revised) September 2023 Wording update to C.2.4.4 and Appendix A C.2.4.4 and Appendix A
V19 (revised) January 2024 Update to text B., section C.2.2 Application evaluation, C.2.4.4, C.2.5 Procedure for continuation of certification, C.12.4.2 B., C.2.2 Application evaluation, C.2.4.4, C.2.5 Procedure for continuation of certification, C.12.4.2
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