Canada - Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

The CFIA is the Canadian competent authority with respect to interprovincial and international trade of organic agricultural and food products in Canada as defined in the Organic Products Regulation.

The CFIA accreditation is aiming at the acceptance of organic products certified in accordance with Canadian Organic Standards (COS) and imported to Canada or traded between Canadian provinces.

What need does this accreditation address?

To certify organic products originating in Canada and intended for sale in a province other than that in which they were produced, certification bodies must be accredited by the CFIA.

For products intended for export to Canada, certification bodies must be accredited by the CFIA if they do not operate in a country recognized by the Canadian authorities through an equivalency agreement.

The CFIA approval is granted to certification bodies that are the object of a recommendation made by a  “conformity verification body” (CVB) – with which the CFIA has signed an agreement for the assessment and the monitoring of organizations that certify organic products in accordance with the Canadian standards, following the determination of their compliance with the Canadian Organic Regime (COR).

In 2008, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recognized the Committee on Accreditation for Evaluation of Quality (CAEQ) as operating a valid system for verifying the compliance of organic certifiers, in accordance with the international ISO Standard 17011 as required in the Organic Products Regulation . This recognition has been published on the CFIA Web Site.

Which organizations can apply?

Any organizations certifying organic products in Canada or in a country with which the Canadian authorities have not signed an equivalency agreement may apply to the CAEQ to have their certification program assessed against its compliance with the requirements of Canada Organic Regime (COR).

CAEQ Role

In order to be accredited by the CFIA, certification bodies must demonstrate to a conformity verification body such as the CAEQ that they operate a certification system that is compliant with the requirements of Canada Organic Regime (COR).

This demonstration results from an assessment that is carried out in the course of the processing of an initial accreditation application. If this assessment proves satisfactory the CAEQ will make a recommendation to the CFIA that organization can be accredited and included on its list of authorized organizations.

All applications for initial accreditation or an accreditation extension will be handled by the CAEQ.

What are the actions of CAEQ?

In order to enable the certification body to demonstrate compliance of its certification system with OPR requirements, the CAEQ offers the verification of your conformity with the scope of OPR. In the course of the accreditation process, the CAEQ reviews the quality system and certification process applicable to the Canadian Organic Standards as well as its level of implementation. The certification body is provided with the assessment reports prepared by the CAEQ on the documentary review, as well as the regular on-the-spot evaluation, surveillance and multiannual re-assessment of its activities that are required to maintain accreditation.

With regards to standards, the CAEQ offers access to a database that include the main national standards and in addition a gap analysis between most of them. Consequently, if a certification body is already certifying products according to another organic standard and wishes to offer clients an organic certification program according to the Canadian standard, it will be able to instruct inspectors to verify any complementary or additional requirements in order to certify the products against COS. It will then be deemed compliant.

Since CAEQ specializes in accreditation services for organizations carrying out certification of agricultural and food products, the CAEQ uses only one accreditation reference manual for assessing certification bodies. This accreditation manual contains criteria that correspond to ISO 17065 (former ISO Guide 65) requirements.

Besides the accreditation, the CAEQ offers additional services such as Certified Products Database management, Standards comparisons for the purpose of equivalency determination, etc.

Contact without delay the CAEQ which will describe the procedure to follow and will guide you in submitting your application for the COR accreditation scope.

  • For more information on Canada Organic Regime , visit the CFIA Website.