What does it mean to be Certified Organic?
Since the implementation of the USDA’s National Organic Program in 2002, all organic products sold in the US, by law, must be certified by an accredited third-party agency and compliant with National Organic Program (NOP) standards.
Imported organic produce is subject to certification standards every bit as stringent as produce grown in the United States. Foreign and domestic certification agencies may apply directly to the USDA for recognition and are evaluated on the same criteria. Alternately, foreign governments (many of whom, like Canada, Chile and Argentina, have established national organic programs) may apply to the USDA for recognition of equivalency in their national organic oversight program. Once accreditation or recognition is granted, organic products produced under the supervision of the certifying agent or foreign government are eligible for import to the US as certified organic.
Beyond certifying the farms themselves, certifying agencies both in the US and abroad also scrutinize all aspects of growing, harvesting, washing, packing, labeling, storing and transporting organic products, ensuring that agricultural inputs, pest control measures, and cleaning products are compliant with NOP standards. All harvests and shipments are carefully documented and tracked to ensure the integrity of organic products from the farm to the consumer. Annual audits, comprehensive and legally enforceable organic standards, and ongoing cooperation and transparency among certifiers, producers, and other organic stakeholders have brought consistency and legitimacy to the rapidly growing organic market.