Organic claims enforcement
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) uses a risk-based approach to verify that imported and domestically produced products meet Canadian standards and regulations. CFIA compliance and enforcement actions occur all along the supply chain and involve numerous stakeholders and jurisdictions.
Compliance and enforcement activities
Regulated parties must comply with all applicable acts and regulations including those administered and enforced by the CFIA. Under the Canada Organic Regime (COR) the enforcement of Part 13 of the Safe Food For Canadians regulations (SFCR) is a shared responsibility.
The CFIA accredits and oversees the certification bodies (CBs) based on the conformity verification bodies' (CVBs') recommendations. The CBs verify the compliance with the Canadian Organic Standards of more than 8,000 certificate holders around the world.
Those who seek organic certification of their agriculture or aquaculture products or packaging and labelling activities must do so in accordance with Part 13 of the SFCR.
Both CFIA and the CBs protect consumers by maintaining the integrity of the Canada Organic Regime and the use of the organic claims and the Canada Organic Logo.
Enforcement activities conducted by CFIA accredited certification bodies (CBs)
CBs enforce the CFIA organic regulations by:
- inspecting organic operations annually
- conducting unannounced inspections
- collecting samples to analyze for pesticides and other prohibited substances
- investigating alleged violations/complaints on behalf of the CFIA
- issuing nonconformity notices to operations when violations are found
- suspending or cancelling organic certification if organic operations fail to comply with the rules
Enforcement by the CFIA
The CFIA takes a risk-based approach to compliance management. When the CFIA identifies non-compliance with the legislation it administers and enforces, it has a number of tools it can use to respond. The Agency:
- oversees the CVBs and the CBs by conducting regular audits of their activities
- can suspend or terminate a CVB designation and suspend or cancel CB accreditation
- follows-up on complaints of potentially fraudulent activities and organic claims submitted to the CFIA
Control and enforcement actions
Control and enforcement actions can include product seizure and detention or fines (Administrative Monetary Penalty).
Compliance and enforcement data and resources
Since March 2011, the CFIA has posted certain data on its enforcement and compliance activities. This data includes the names of certification holders who have had their organic certification cancelled under the Canada Organic Regime.
Cancelled organic certifications
An operator with a cancelled organic certification listed in the table below cannot market the products listed on their certificate as organic. Any attempt to sell non-organic product as organic is considered a violation of the SFCR and is subject to CFIA enforcement actions.
Suspended and cancelled certification bodies
The CFIA has the authority to suspend the accreditation of a certification body if there is non-compliance with any provision of the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations, or ISO 17065 requirements.
Accreditation suspensions remain in effect until the required corrective actions are implemented and verified, or until the accreditation is cancelled.
- Suspended and cancelled certification bodies
File a complaint related to the Canada Organic Regime
Complaints can be filed against any product with a suspected fraudulent organic claim sold in Canada, any operator (company) holding certification under the Canada Organic Regime scope, a CFIA designated CVB, a CFIA accredited CB, and the COR team.
Review organic certificates
Checking organic certificates for validity
Valid organic certificates are issued to a certificate holder in good standing by a CB that is directly accredited by the CFIA or recognized under an equivalency arrangement. Each CB maintains a list of active certificate holders that can be used to cross check a certificate's validity and certificate holder's current status.
Any attempt to sell non-organic product as organic is considered a violation of the SFCR and is subject to CFIA enforcement actions.
Fraudulent certificates are occasionally made using the names of certified operators or CB without their consent. CBs and operators should continue to guard against these practices and exercise caution when purchasing from suppliers. The following flowchart can be used to determine if a given organic certificate is valid for marketing an organic product in Canada.
Anyone suspecting a violation of the regulations can report a complaint to the CFIA.
In such circumstances, the operator and CB are contacted to verify authenticity.
Reported fraudulent organic certificates
The CFIA will compile a list with information about invalid certificates that have been publicly circulated into an easy-to-search table.
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