Full enforcement looming for federal organic rules

A two-year grace period for organic food producers to get ready for new federal regulations has only 15 more weeks to go, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warns.

The federal Organic Products Regulations which took effect at the end of June 2009 have since been managed by CFIA through its “Stream of Commerce and Enforcement Policy,” a two-year implementation policy in which producers could “make the adjustments required to become fully compliant” with the new rules.

Standard CFIA compliance and enforcement activities will kick in on June 30 this year, the agency reminded producers in a release.

Under the new regulations, CFIA will be able to “detain” non-compliant products or remove them from store shelves, order corrections on “non-compliant” labelling, and require non-compliant imports to be shipped back to their country of origin.

The new regulations apply to both domestic and imported products. Regardless of origin, all products seeking organic certification must meet Canada’s standards, CFIA said.

Products that meet the production requirements and contain at least 95 per cent organic content may be labelled as “organic” and may feature the “Canada Organic” logo.

Producers who want to become certified under the Organic Products Regulations have to develop an organic production system based on the Canadian Organic Standards and have their products certified by an accredited certification body.

A certified organic product will also have to bear the name of the body that certifies the product as organic.

The Organic Products Regulations, CFIA said, are meant to protect consumers against “misleading or deceptive” labelling practices, reduce consumer confusion about the definition of “organic,” help clear a path for Canadian organic products into foreign markets that require regulatory oversight, and help develop the domestic market for organic food products.

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