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In some countries, organic standards are formulated and overseen by the government. The United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan have comprehensive organic legislation, and the term “organic” may be used only by certified producers.
Being able to put the word “organic” on a food product is a valuable marketing advantage in today’s consumer market, but does not guarantee the product is legitimately organic.
Certification is intended to protect consumers from misuse of the term, and make buying organics easy.
USDA Organic Certification
In the United States, “organic” is a labeling term for food or agricultural products (“food, feed or fiber”) that have been produced according to USDA organic regulations, which define standards that “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
Organic agricultural operations should ultimately maintain or improve soil and water quality, and conserve wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.
EU Organic Certification
EU countries acquired comprehensive organic legislation with the implementation of the EU-Eco regulation 1992. Supervision of certification bodies is handled on the national level. In 2002, the European Commission issued a EU-wide label for organic food. It has been mandatory throughout the EU since 2010 and has become compulsory after a two-year transition period.
The development of the EU organic label was developed based on Denmark’s organic food policy and the rules behind the Danish organic food label which at the moment holds the highest rate of recognition among its users in the world respectively 98% and 90% trust the label. The current EU organic label is meant to signal to the consumer that at least 95% of the ingredients used in the processed organic food is from organic origin and 5% considered an acceptable error margin.
In Canada, certification was implemented at the federal level on June 30, 2009. Mandatory certification is required for agricultural products represented as organic in import, export and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the federal organic logo. In Quebec, provincial legislation provides government oversight of organic certification within the province, through the Quebec Accreditation Board.
Certified Organic or Organic, Philippines
Spearheaded by the advocates of organic and sustainable agriculture, the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) was formed in response to the need for a national organic inspection and certification program. An independent, private, membership-based organic standard setting and organic certification body, OCCP was the first certifying body to be accredited by the Department of Agriculture.
Organic (Ingredient) in the Ingredients List
The name and seal of OCCP shall not be used on processed food products with less than 70% of ingredients (excluding water and salt) granted the “organic” certification status. The ingredient(s) certified by OCCP shall appear only in the ingredients list with an asterisk noting that the product has been certified by OCCP.