Organic food's new rules
Though Friday the 13th is considered unlucky for some, this past Februarys 13th day was an auspicious one for the organic food industry in Canada - as well as for consumers of organic products.
Though Friday the 13th is considered unlucky for some, this past February’s 13th day was an auspicious one for the organic food industry in Canada—as well as for consumers of organic products.
This was the day that the federal government unveiled its new mandatory standards for organic foods. The standards come with enforcement tools for inspectors that are designed to keep products falsely claiming to be organic off store shelves.
The Organic Products Regulations were first published on December 2006, allowing producers in the Canadian organic sector a transition period before the regulations take full force on June 30, 2009.
The regulations will legally require organic products to be certified according to the Canadian Organic Standards (COS) if they are traded across provincial or international borders or use the Canada Organic (Biologique Canada) logo. These products must also display the name of the certifying body, which may be different depending upon the product’s origin.
In the past 10 years, the consumption of organic foods in Canada has grown by about 20 percent a year. Standards of what constituted organic were developed locally, and a variety of regulations grew up around organic farming.
“When these regulations come into effect this summer, consumers will have a clear idea of what organic is, and will know the CFIA is monitoring and enforcing organic claims in the marketplace,” said Matthew Holmes, Managing Director of the Organic Trade Association in Canada.
In recognition of the burgeoning trade in organics, both domestically and internationally, the new regulations also provide detailed provisions covering organic imports and exports, including a possible equivalency agreement with Canada’s major trading partners such as the US and Europe.
“Given the current economic climate, I think the Canadian government is sending a strong message to the international community that we’re committed to fostering strong trade relationships,” noted Holmes. “The organic sector is growing so fast that we need to make sure that we don’t unintentionally introduce new barriers to trade, particularly now.”
The most important result of the new regulatory protection of Canadian organic standards is the peace of mind for Canadian consumers who will now have a clear choice and will know they are getting what they’ve paid for. “The new logo is a visual reminder to consumers that Canada has a set of regulatory standards and that products with the new logo meet these standards,” says Penelope Marrett, president and CEO of the Canadian Health Food Association.
“The new logo will increase consumer confidence by providing easy identification of certified organic products.”
Look at the Label
|Organic content||Canada Organic logo?||Label|
|95 percent or greater||Yes||Organic certifying body + Canada Organic logo|
|Multi-ingredient products: 70 to 95 percent||No||“% organic products”|
|Multi-ingredient products: less than 70 percent||No||Organic claims only in ingredient list|
|Imported products||As for domestic products: dependent on percent organic content||“Product of” or “Imported from” along with the name of the country of origin|