New rule possible
While the standards largely focus on the verification of procedures (process-based), testing is a tool used regularly to validate contamination prevention measures and/or to address complaints and reported contamination.
NOP has recently released a proposed rule that will require certifiers to annually conduct residue testing on 5% of their certified operations.
The required testing will be in addition to testing already conducted when contamination is suspected or complaints are received.
The final rule will clarify the required testing provision in the Organic Foods Production Act. The final rule is expected late this year.
Inspections are objective and transparent. A copy of the inspection report is provided to the operator along with the certification decision.
The certifier, including the inspector, must not hold a commercial interest in the business being inspected, or provide paid consulting services, accept gifts, favors, or payments other than the prescribed inspection fee.
An inspector cannot serve as an adviser or consultant, and may not recommend specific products, practices, animal or plant varieties, or give advice for overcoming identified barriers to certification.
The term “organic” is federally regulated. Anyone making an organic claim is legally liable.
A civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each offense can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels an organic product that is not produced in accordance with NOP regulations.
Consumers purchasing organic fruits, vegetables and other products can be assured that these products not only carry the most regulated food label available, but are the gold standard for those wishing to avoid produce containing pesticide residues.
Given the facts, you can surely understand our shock at such disinformation from one individual spread in an attempt to undermine an entire growing industry.
Christine Bushway is executive director and chief executive officer of the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association, the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America.
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