With more than one-quarter of consumers saying they typically buy organic produce, according to The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2012 survey, organic produce is big business — and getting bigger.
The National Organic Standards Board’s calls to implement unannounced inspections of certified organic operations and stricter criteria for inspectors are a welcome move to ensure the financial health of the category and consumer confidence in organic fruits and vegetables.
The board is calling for mandatory unannounced inspections for at least 5% of certified organic operations annually.
Responding to the board’s unannounced inspection plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program has pledged to find ways to conduct inspections to enhance organic integrity.
The Organic Trade Association has indicated it is on board with the recommendations, and (to their credit) grower-shippers have echoed support.
OTA also has called for uniformity at the federal level to guarantee the integrity of organic operations.
We agree, and we’d like to see it rise from 5%.
With organic produce being grown and sourced from many regions on a year-round basis, a consistent standard for all players should be non-negotiable.
The move follows a recent decision in California to require licensing of organic fertilizers, that state’s response to a case where a company used synthetic ingredients in fertilzer that was innaccurately certified as organic and used on crops.
That case underscores the need for the organic industry to police itself and hold its particpants accountable to the high standards its customers expect.
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