Why do we need accreditation?
Accreditation is a mechanism to build trust and facilitate trade. IFOAM, the predecessor of IOAS became involved in accreditation in the late 1980s because there was a lack of trust between certification bodies and their clients. To build confidence amongst producers and trust between traders, there was a need for oversight of certification or control bodies (CBs) working in different countries. In this way accreditation is the highest level of the conformity assessment pyramid.
Today, because the trade in ecolabelled goods is amongst the fastest growing sectors and is taking place on an international level, many private schemes and regulators are turning to accreditation as a way of bringing order to what could be a chaotic scene.
Certification or control bodies are required to demonstrate competence by undergoing an assessment by accreditation bodies like IOAS. Once accreditation is achieved, the CB is listed as approved by the regulator or scheme owner which confirms to producers and traders that the certification process is performed according to agreed rules and that, in turn, the certified products comply with the agreed standard. Trade in these goods follows from this trust.
On June 16, 2016 IOAS also became a signatory of the Multilateral Recognition Arrangement for Product Certification operated by APAC (previously known as PAC).
The ultimate objective of both APAC and IAF is the creation of a global system that grants international recognition of certification or registration of management systems, products, services, personnel and other programmes of conformity assessment.
APAC operates within the framework of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and in cooperation with other regional groups of accreditation bodies around the world. The primary means by which IAF achieve its aims is by the establishment of MLAs which provide for world-wide recognition of certificates of conformity issued by certification bodies accredited by members of IAF.
IOAS is proud to have achieved this recognition, a demonstration of the equivalence of IOAS with other accreditation bodies and important in IOAS’ ongoing commitment to excellence in its work.
The assessment process
The process of assessment is described in international norms (ISO/IEC 17065) and is set out in detail in IOAS Policies and Procedures which are available in our client area on this web site. A detailed general guide to how IOAS conducts accreditation is available to all in our General Operating Manual. Specific requirements of each scheme are specified in individual scheme Operating Manuals.
Once accredited, the CB is subject to on-going annual surveillance and a 5-year re-assessment cycle. The surveillance regime is governed by scheme owner rules and our risk policy but at the very least, the CB is subject to on-site visits every other year.