FAQ Canada Organic Regime

Accreditation

Is the CAEQ recognized by the CFIA as a Conformity Verification Body having the capacity to evaluate, recommend and monitor the accreditation of certification bodies?

Yes, the CAEQ is on the list of Conformity Verification Bodies (CVBs) designated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with which it has concluded an agreement pursuant to paragraph 14(1) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, in particular, to evaluate, recommend and monitor the accreditation of certification bodies under the Organic Products Regulations (2009).

How often is the list of Certification bodies accredited by the CFIA updated?

The CFIA is updating their list once per month. 

Does the latest Quality Manual completely supersede the previous QMS Manual?

Yes, the current Canada Organic Office Operating Manual supersedes the previous QMS Manual.

COS certification

Is the Canada Organic Standard (COS) certificate valid throughout Canada (including Québec), regardless of the origin of the product?

Yes. All COS certificates issued to operators by certification bodies whose names appear on the list of accredited bodies published by the CFIA for products from the country or countries within their geographic accreditation scope are accepted in Canada (including Québec). However, if certifiers want to certify products from Canadian operations, they must include Canada and Québec in their geographical accreditation scope by submitting an application to the CAEQ to extend the geographical scope.

Can organic products made of raw materials certified according to a standard other than the COS be accepted on the Canadian market?

For products to be considered as organic on the Canadian market, raw materials must be certified according to the COS requirements, to the Canada-USA Equivalency Arrangement or the Canada-EU Organic Equivalency Arrangement. 

Labeling

Where can the certification bodies find information concerning the labelling for the details that are mentioned neither in the Regulations nor in the Canadian Organic Standards?

The following regulations describe the general labelling requirements in Canada including the organic products;

In addition to the above, the Organic Product Regulations (OPR) prescribes the following requirements:

  • The prerequisites for labels or advertisements of certified products, containing the words “organic”, “organically grown”, “organically raised”, “organically produced” or similar words (Section 24-1), as well as rules governing the use of the words “organic ingredients” (Section 24-2);
  • Requirement for the name of the CB on the label (Section 25-a);
  • The use of the logo on products (Section 23);
  • The name of the country of origin (Section 25-c).
If the labelling of a certified organic product is not compliant with the Canadian regulations, does it need to be corrected immediately?

Yes. Since June 30, 2011, any incorrectly labelled packaging will face repressive measures from the CFIA if it does not meet the Canada Organic Regime requirements.

Bio Canada logo

Can a CFIA accredited certification body authorize an operator to use the Canadian logo?

Yes but in a limited manner. In fact, a certification body can authorize an operator to use the Canada Organic Logo for marketed certified.  However, the certification body cannot authorize the use of the logo on materials other than labels. As a result, the operator must contact directly the Canada Organic Office in order to obtain the permission to use the Canada Organic logo on advertising, displays or any other media.

Under which conditions can an accredited certification body grant the permission to use the Canada Organic Logo on their certified products?

All certification bodies that appear on the list of accredited bodies published by the CFIA may authorize operators whose products have been certified according to Canadian standards, or in accordance with the terms of the Canada-USA or Canada-EU equivalency agreements, to use the Canada Organic Logo on their certified products that contain more than 95% organic ingredients..

Do all the ingredients used to prepare an organic product need to be certified according to the Canadian Organic Standards in order for the product to be compliant to Canadian Regulations and therefore bear the Canadian Organic Logo?

In order to comply with the regulations and bear the Canada Organic logo, a final product must contain minimum 95% of the ingredients certified to the Canadian Organic Standards (or a standard deemed equivalent) or the Canada-USA Equivalency Arrangement . This implies that the remaining 5% can be certified to another standard or non-organic ingredients may be used (8.2.3 CAN-CGSB).

Imported Organic Products

Which conditions apply to organic products imported into Canada?

Under the Organic Products Regulations (OPR), organic products may be imported under the following conditions:

  1. Certified to the Canadian Organic Standards by a body included on the accredited certification bodies list published by the CFIA;
  2. Certified as organic in accordance with an agreement or arrangement entered into with another country regarding the import and export of organic products;
  3. Certified as organic in accordance with an agreement or arrangement, described in 2, by a certification body that is recognized by a country to which the agreement refers and that must be included on the accredited certification bodies list published by the CFIA.

Canada signed an equivalency agreement with the United States in 2009 and an equivalency arrangement with the European Union in 2011 with different geographical scopes.

Following the memorandum issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on November 4, 2010, the USDA now endorses the organic certification of products from outside North America and intended for sale in Canada even if this certification was granted by a body initially accredited by the USDA. However, in order to be authorized for sale in Canada, these products must have been certified by an organization included on the accredited certification bodies list published by the CFIA.

Under the Canada-EU arrangement, only organic products from European Union member states may be imported into Canada without additional certification. In order to be accepted in Canada, products certified to European standards from third countries must be certified according to the Canada Organic Regime requirements.

All importers of organic products must be able to demonstrate, at all times, that the imported products meet the conditions set out above, according to the country of origin. Importers must retain all documents attesting to this fact. These documents may be verified by the accredited certification bodies during on-site verifications.

Are NOP-certified products accepted in Canada?

NOP-certified organic products, issued to operators from outside of Canada, are not accepted in Canada unless the NOP certificate is accompanied by a document that certifies that the product is compliant with the requirements of the 2009 US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement.

Is this USA-Canada Equivalency Arrangement applicable only for products produced and/or processed in the USA or in Canada, or also for products certified and produced/processed according NOP and/or COR in Europe ort elsewhere?

On June 17, 2009 the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) exchanged letters confirming the equivalency of the two countries' organic programs with some exceptions called “critical variances”.

The Arrangement covers the accreditation system of both regulations in its geographical entirety meaning that agricultural products certified in compliance with the terms of the US-Canada Organic Equivalency Arrangement can be sold as organic in both countries. The product being traded under this arrangement does not have to originate within either country.

Is EU organic certification accepted in Canada?

Following the June 2011 Canada-EU Organic Equivalency Arrangement, organic products originating from European Union member states are accepted in Canada without additional requirements other than those related to labelling. However, the CFIA will soon publish interpretations relating to this arrangement as to specify whether processed products to be accepted for sale in Canada may contain ingredients originating from EU countries only or also from third countries.

Is the June 2011 Canada-EU Organic Equivalency Arrangement applicable only to products from EU member states and Canada, or also to products certified under European standards or the Canada Organic Regime or elsewhere in the world?
This agreement only applies to organic products from Canada or EU member states. In order to be sold in Canada or Europe, products certified according to European standards or the Canada Organic Regime in third countries must be re-certified.
Is the Canada Organic Regime certification accepted in Europe?

Following the June 2011 Canada-EU Organic Equivalency Arrangement, organic products grown in Canada and certified by recognized certification bodies (Annex III of Regulation EC 1235/2008) may be exported to EU countries accompanied by a Control Certificate relating to the import of products derived from organic farming in the EU.