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Letters exchanged: Japan – Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement (JCOEA)

Requirements for the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

Letter to the Director General, Food Industry Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

1400 Merivale Road
Tower 2, 6th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0Y9

July 7, 2020

Mr. Shiokawa Shirara
Director General
Food Industry Bureau
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Tokyo, Japan

Subject: Recognition of Equivalency with Japan

Dear Mr. Shiokawa,

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reviewed the Japan organic certification program as set out in the Japan Agricultural Standard (JAS).

Pursuant to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act and the Safe Food For Canadians Act, the CFIA has determined that agricultural products of plant origin, including fungi and processed foods of plant origin as well as livestock products and processed food product containing livestock ingredients limited to the specified scope of the livestock by organic JAS, which are grown or produced in Japan or whose final processing or packaging occurs within Japan and are:

are deemed equivalent to those products that have been produced and processed in accordance with Part 13 of Safe Food for Canadians Regulations ((SFCR) 2019); and may be sold, labelled and represented in Canada as organic, including display of the Canada Organic Logo as well as the Japanese organic seal. This recognition will be effective as of July 16 2020 under the conditions set forth in Appendix 1.

The requirements outlined in Appendix 2 apply to imported organic products.

The CFIA team, which administers Part 13 of the SFCR, is committed to working with Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to carry out the terms of this letter.

Sincerely,
Lyzette Lamondin
Executive Director
International Programs Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Appendix 1 – Conditions for granting equivalency

The equivalency decision of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is subject to the following:

  1. The Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) will notify the CFIA in a timely manner of any;
    • (a) changes with respect to Japan's competent authority and accredited Certification bodies;
    • (b) proposed legislation or rulemaking in Japan that would modify the Japan Agricultural Standard (JAS);
    • (c) instances of significant non-compliance with MAFF's organic certification program. For purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non-conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product subject to this recognition.
  2. Following advance notice from the CFIA, MAFF will permit the CFIA to conduct evaluations (document reviews or on-site visits) to verify how the JAS accredited certification bodies carry out the requirements of Japan's organic certification program. MAFF will cooperate and assist the CFIA, to the extent permitted under domestic law, in carrying out such evaluations.
  3. MAFF will submit an annual report to the CFIA that will cover the organic activities for the previous year by March 31 of the current year.
  4. Canada and Japan will participate in discussions or other means they deem appropriate to resolve any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered under the arrangement such as establishing Technical Working Group to address and resolve implementation and other issues with the equivalency recognition.
  5. If the CFIA decides to change its criteria for determining equivalency, it will notify MAFF in writing in advance
  6. By July 2025, the Technical Working Group will review the functioning of this letter with a view to proposing any changes, as needed.

Appendix 2 – Import provisions

The following import provisions apply:

  1. JAS non-regulated Japanese organic products (e.g. honey, aquaculture products, seaweed) as well as organic feed can be imported and sold in Canada as organic as long as they are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard by a CFIA accredited Certification body. These imported organic products must be accompanied by a valid organic certificate issued by a CFIA accredited Certification body.
  2. JAS – product covered under Appendix 1 and imported into Canada:
    • Must be accompanied by an export certificate issued by a MAFF accredited Certification body recognized under the existing organic equivalency agreement between Canada and Japan that attests to compliance with the terms of this letter.

Letter to the Executive Director, International Programs Directorate, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

July 9, 2020

Ms. Lyzette Lamondin
Executive Director
International Programs Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Dear Ms. Lamondin,

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan (MAFF) has reviewed the Canadian organic certification program.

Based on the review, MAFF recognizes that the organic products system (livestock products and processed food product containing livestock ingredients limited to the specified scope of the livestock by organic JAS) in Canada stipulated by the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) 2019 is equivalent to the organic certification system under the Act on Japanese Agricultural Standards under the conditions set forth in Appendix 1.

Accordingly, agricultural products of plant origin, including fungi and processed foods of plant origin, as well as livestock product and processed food product containing livestock ingredients which are grown or processed in Canada or whose final processing or packaging occurs within Canada and are:

may be sold, labeled and represented in Japan as organic, including display of the Organic JAS logo as well as the Canada Organic Logo. This recognition will be effective as of July 16, 2020.

The requirements for other imported organic products are outlined in Appendix 2.

MAFF is committed to working with the CFIA to carry out the terms of the determination as stipulated in this letter.

Sincerely,
Shiokawa Shirara
Director-General
Food Industry Bureau
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Appendix 1 – Conditions for granting equivalency

The equivalency decision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is subject to the following:

  1. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will notify the MAFF in a timely manner of any;
    • (a) changes with respect to Canada's competent authority and accredited certification bodies;
    • (b) proposed legislation or rulemaking in Canada that would modify Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) 2019;
    • (c) instances of significant non-compliance with the CFIA organic certification program. For purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non-conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product subject to this recognition.
  2. Following advance notice from the MAFF, CFIA will permit the MAFF to conduct evaluations (document reviews or on-site visits) to verify how the CFIA accredited certification bodies carry out the requirements of Canada's organic certification program. CFIA will cooperate and assist the MAFF, to the extent permitted under domestic law, in carrying out such evaluations.
  3. CFIA is expected to submit an annual report to the MAFF that contains information regarding the types and quantities of Canadian organic products exported under this recognition for the previous year by March 31 of the current year.
  4. MAFF and CFIA will participate in discussions or other means they deem appropriate to resolve any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered under this recognition e.g. establishing a Technical Working Group to address and resolve implementation and other issues.
  5. Should the MAFF decide to change its criteria for determining equivalency, it will notify CFIA in writing in advance.
  6. By July 2025, the Organic Working Group will review the functioning of this letter with a view to proposing any changes, as needed.

Appendix 2 – Import of other organic products

The following import – requirements apply;

  1. JAS non-regulated Canadian organic products (e.g., honey, seaweed,) as well as organic feed can be imported and sold in Japan as organic as long as they are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard by a CFIA-accredited Certification Body and comply with the Organic Products Regulations, including labelling requirements for the use of the Canada Organic logo. These can be labelled and sold in Japan as organic without JAS logos or certification.
  2. Any plants, livestock products and processed plant or livestock products limited to the specified scope of the livestock by Organic JAS certified under CAN/CGSB-32.312 can not be labelled and sold in Japan as organic even if certified as organic in Canada.
  3. If the alcoholic beverage is labelled with the word "organic" in the Japanese language, then a certificate that includes the name of the certified alcoholic beverage, the name and the address of the certified farm or brewery, the number and date of certification, the address and name of the operator, the country of origin, and the address and name of the certifying body is required to accompany export. The certificate must be issued by a CFIA accredited certification body.
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