Significant updates to the USDA Organic regulations are set to come into effect in 2024, aimed at strengthening the integrity of organic products and enforcement of the regulations. These updates cover a range of areas, including exemptions from certification, supply chain traceability, labeling requirements, and more. Let's delve into the key changes that will affect organic producers, importers, certifiers, and consumers.
Expanded Certification Requirements and Limitation of Exemptions:
Under the new regulations, certain operations that were previously exempt will now require organic certification. This includes traders, importers, exporters, and brokers involved in the sale or trade of organic products. However, exemptions will still apply to low-risk activities such as very small operations, certain retail establishments, and storage facilities. Exempt operations must still comply with other organic regulations, including prevention of commingling and contamination, labeling requirements, and record-keeping.
Enhanced Import Controls and Traceability:
To ensure the authenticity of imported organic products, all imports must be declared through the USDA's Automated Commercial Environment system using data from an NOP Import Certificate. The certificate, issued by an accredited certifier, helps monitor and detect potential fraud. Operations are also required to have a fraud prevention plan and maintain records that trace the product's origin and movement through the supply chain. Certifiers will conduct risk-based supply chain traceability audits to ensure compliance.
Labeling and Nonretail Containers:
The new regulations mandate that nonretail container labels include organic identification and information linking them to audit trail documentation. Audit trail documentation associated with nonretail containers must identify the last certified handler of the product and be sufficient to follow the transfer of ownership and transportation of the product.
Other Key Updates:
The updates also address personnel training and qualifications for certifiers, continuation of certification processes, producer group certification, calculating the percentage of organic ingredients, mediation and appeals procedures, and foreign conformity assessments. These changes aim to enhance oversight, accountability, and transparency within the organic industry.
In conclusion, the forthcoming updates to the USDA Organic regulations represent a significant step towards strengthening the integrity of organic products. These changes aim to ensure consistent standards, traceability, and consumer confidence in organic certifications. To learn more about specific impacts to your operation or supply chain, please contact Ned Halaby, Director of Sales for the SCS Global Services Organic Program: [email protected].