To our friends and colleagues in the organic community,
The USDA Office of Inspector General’s report on organic import controls raises some serious concerns for those of us in the organic community, but we are encouraged by the National Organic Program’s initial response to the findings and its willingness to address the issues.
As a USDA-accredited certifying agent, QAI is committed to rigorous enforcement of the NOP requirements. The inspector general’s report makes it clear that the NOP may need to make some changes related to the import of organic food. If that happens, QAI will adjust the way it certifies imported products to align with any new NOP requirements.
Until then, QAI is actively working with the NOP and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to protect the integrity of the organic supply chain.
- QAI auditors have already been operating in a heightened state of alert as they perform the audits and tests necessary to certify imports as USDA Organic.
- QAI is actively participating in the OTA’s global organic supply chain integrity task force to map out every step in the global supply chain and identify critical control points in NOP import requirements.
- QAI recently contacted its clients to gather information from those that import high-risk commodities (e.g. corn, soybeans, etc.) from regions of the world where organic fraud is known to be most prevalent. These high-risk imports will receive the highest level of scrutiny including verification and tracking of volumes through the shipping process, comparing imported volumes to volumes used in product production, and rigorous document verification. Additionally, QAI is gathering an increased number of random samples for chemical residue testing. It’s important to note that residue testing is performed after food imports have been received by the importer, so exposure to pesticides on the cargo ship (as mentioned in the inspector general’s report) would be detected.
QAI is committed to ensuring ongoing consumer trust in organic food. We have adjusted our inspection, testing and certification review practices to address heightened concerns about fraudulent imports and we will continue to make changes to align with any new NOP requirements for organic imports.
Director, Certification Services
Quality Assurance International, Inc.