New regulations to open up organic trade, says OTA

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Percent organic ingredients, Organic food, Organic trade association

New regulations for Canadian organic food are due to come into effect at the end of June, and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has said that they will ease trade in organic food between Canada and major trading partners.

The Organic Products Regulations, published last week, will require all organic products to be endorsed by a certification body accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The first draft of the regulations raised concerns over possible restrictions on imports and exports of organic foods due to a lack of allowance for equivalency between countries’ certification procedures, but the OTA said that these have now been resolved.

OTA’s managing director Matthew Holmes said: “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. 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.”

Equivalency

The new regulations have been designed to bring Canadian requirements for organic certification in line with those of its major trading partners in Europe and the US, as well as to protect consumers.

The OTA partnered with government in order to produce and revise the regulations, and has been working with growers and manufacturers of organic products for the past year and a half in order to adjust organic standards in time for the new regulation. Holmes said: “When these regulations come into effect this summer, consumers will have a clear idea of what organic is, and will know the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is monitoring and enforcing organic claims in the marketplace.”

Organic thresholds

The new regulations provide a coherent national framework for determining what is and is not allowed to be certified as organic, as well as a new organic logo.

From June, products that contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients will be eligible for organic certification but those containing 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients will have to carry additional information on the product label identifying the percentage of each organic ingredient.

Those products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients will be restricted to making organic claims on the ingredient list.

The Canadian government first proposed the transition from a voluntary to a mandatory certification system in 2006 but faced difficulties in streamlining the various certification schemes in operation around the country. At that time, only British Columbia and Quebec had government-enforced regulation procedures in place.

The organic products industry is the fastest growing sector of Canadian agriculture, with annual growth of 15 to 20 percent over the past decade, according to the Canadian Food and Drug Law Institute.

Related topics: Regulation

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