The Canada Organic Regime is implemented by the Canada Organic Office (COO), part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The framework for the COR is the Organic Products Regulations of 2009 (OPR 2009) which set out requirements for organic product labelling and the various actors and infrastructure for implementation. All products which are sold in Canada labelled as organic and which bear the Canada organic logo must have either been certified by an accredited certification body or by one which works under a country system which the CFIA has deemed equivalent.
The CFIA approves Conformity Verification Bodies (CVBs) (of which IOAS is one) which assess the ability of certification bodies both inside and outside of Canada to conduct inspection and certification of farms and processors involved in production of organic products to be sold on the Canadian market. CVBs perform assessment of certification bodies according to ISO/IEC 17065 but make a recommendation for accreditation to CFIA which is the ultimate decision maker. Accredited CBs are listed on the CFIA web site.
The OPR 2009 require mandatory certification to the Canada National Organic Standard for agricultural products represented as organic in international and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the Canada organic logo and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulation (SOR/2018-108) of the Government of Canada (SFCR) was implemented on January 15th, 2019 setting out the framework for a conformity assessment system for products labelled as organic and its mode of operation in Part 13.
The SFCR applies to the following food commodities:
• Food or drink products for human consumption, wholly or partly derived from livestock or plants. This includes fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, processed foods regulated under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) (including alcoholic beverages), maple products, dairy products, honey, eggs and eggs products, meat and meat products;
• Livestock and livestock products; plants and plant products. This includes seed and planting stock and nursery products
• Livestock feed.
• Aquaculture and aquaponic products; unprocessed or processed crop and livestock products intend for human or animal consumption.
There are five main documents that provide the mandate and policies for the Canada Organic Regime. Updated versions are available from the CFIA web site. These are:
• The Safe Food for Canadians Regulation, 2018;
• Organic Production Systems – General Principles and Management Standards (CAN/CGSB-32.310) developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board;
• Organic Production Systems – Permitted Substances List, CAN/CGSB-32.311 developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board;
• Organic Production Systems -Aquaculture – General principles, management standards and permitted substances lists, CAN/CGSB-32.312 developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board;
• The Canada Organic Regime (COR) Operating Manual.
In addition to these main documents the CFIA, from time to time, issues directives and memos which are important sources of information for CBs and CVBs. All such documents can also be found on the CFIA web site.
CBs are required to demonstrate conformance with ISO /IEC 17065 and the relevant requirements set out in the Canada Organic Regime Operating Manual.
The following categories of activity are recognised:
- Crop production
- Grower group certification
- Livestock Feed
- Livestock production
- Processed products
- Specialized: Apiculture
- Specialized greenhouse crops
- Specialized mushrooms
- Specialized sprouts
- Specialized wild crops
- Specialized maple production
- Aquaculture-Crop (cultivated seaweed)
- Aquaculture- Processed
- Aquaculture- Specialized including aquaponics and wild crops
First steps in accreditation are as follows:
- Complete the standard IOAS application form
The IOAS Canada Organic Regime Operating Manual provides full guidance on implementation of this scheme.
All standards, certification requirements and updated guidance information are available at the Organic Products web site of the CFIA.
Please note that the USDA and the Canadian Organic Regime (COR) have an organic standards equivalency agreement. Products from anywhere in the world certified to the USDA organic regulations or Canada Organic Regime may be labeled and sold as organic in both countries. As long as organic operations are certified by a National Organic Program-accredited certifying agent, this arrangement eliminates the need for USDA certified organic operations to have a separate certification to the Canada Organic Regime standards.