United States Of America - USDA Recognition

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) accredits certification bodies which aims at the acceptance of organic products under the National Organic Program (NOP) on the United States of America market.

What need does this program address?

In order to certify organic products intended for sale in the United States, any one of the following conditions must be met by the certification body:

  • accredited directly by the USDA
  • included on the List of Certifying Bodies accredited by a foreign government and recognized by the USDA
  • accredited by the competent autority of the country with which the USDA has signed a mutual equivalency agreement.

The CAEQ is concerned by the third above mentioned condition. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) signed in June 2009 an equivalency agreement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for the purpose of organic products reciprocal acceptance.

Within the context of the application of this agreement, when a CFIA accredited Certification Body certifies products under the Canada Organic Regime and verifies the variance mentionned on the equivalency arrangement, the certifed products can be exported to the United States of America market..

Which organizations can apply?

This program is offered to any organic certification bodies no matter where it is based and in which countries it is operating. Any certification body not already accredited by the USDA may apply to the CAEQ for accreditation to CFIA to certify organic products according to Canadian standards and the terms of the equivalency agreement above-mentioned, if these products are intended for sale in the United States of America.

CAEQ Role

All requests for initial accreditation or for an accreditation extension will be handled by the CAEQ following the accreditation process that is specified in the Internal Regulations Pertaining to Accreditation for Certifiers.

Once the evaluation based on the Canada Organic Regime requirements is completed, the CAEQ recommends the CFIA to accredit the body in order to get the name of the certification body included on the list published on its Website.

What are the actions of CAEQ?

In order to enable the certification body to demonstrate compliance of its certification system with requirements, the CAEQ offers the verification of the conformity in compliance with Canadian Organic Standards and the equivalency arrangement. In the course of the accreditation process, the CAEQ reviews the certification body’s quality system and assesses its level of implementation with regards to the terms prescribed. The certification body is provided with the assessment reports prepared by the CAEQ covering the document review as well as the regular on-the-spot evaluation, surveillance and re-assessment of its activities required to maintain accreditation.

Since the CAEQ specializes in accreditation services for organizations carrying out the certification of agricultural and food products, the CAEQ uses only one accreditation reference manual for assessing certification bodies. This accreditation manual contains criteria that include ISO 17065 requirements (former ISO Guide 65).

Besides its accreditation, the CAEQ offers additional services such as certified product database management, standards comparisons for the purpose of equivalence determination, etc.

Contact without delay the CAEQ wich will present the procedure to follow and will guide you in submitting your application.