WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CHANGES?
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule is designed to:
- Reduce fraud in the organic marketplace
- Strengthen oversight of organic producers, handlers, and certifiers
- Improve USDA’s enforcement mechanisms
WHO DOES THE UPDATE AFFECT?
Compliance with the changes in rules and regulations will affect
- USDA accredited certifying agents
- Organic inspectors
- Brokers, traders, exporters, and importers
HIGHLIGHTS OF REQUIRED CHANGES
1. Certified operations will need to:
- Develop and implement improved recordkeeping and organic fraud prevention procedures.
- Conduct supply chain traceability audits
- Develop relevant information-sharing processes
2. Non-retail containers used to ship or store organic products are to be labeled with organic identity and are to be traceable to auditable records.
3. Greater clarification on how to calculate the percentage of organic ingredients in a multi-ingredient product, promoting consistent interpretation and application of the regulations
4. Certifying agents to issue standardized operation certificates generated from the USDA’s Organic Integrity Database (OID), simplifying the verification of valid certificates of organic operation.
5. Certifying agents will conduct unannounced inspections of at least 5% of the operations they certify and verify traceability back to the previous certified operation in the supply chain during inspections
6. More specific guidelines on certification requirements for producer group operations (grower groups) that provide consistent, enforceable standards and ensure compliance with the organic regulations
7. Clarifies conditions and requirements for equivalence determinations with foreign government organic programs
8. Additionally- a new NOP Electronic Import Certificate process will come into effect. Those familiar with the transaction certificates associated with Rainforest Alliance (RA) transactions will likely see similarities with this new Electronic Import Certificate. The form can be found here:
9. The guidelines also provide for organic operators to develop, submit and receive approval for their Fraud Prevention Plans by March 2024. Further description of this requirement can be found in the Section: Increased Traceability & Organic Fraud Protection Plan 205.201(a)(3), 205.504(b)(7). It is worth noting that some of these requirements likely coincide with necessary compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act‘s (FSMA) Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP).
If you are unsure of how these new regulations may affect your business operations, please reach out to:
- Your organization’s organic certifier
- Firsd Tea customers can contact their representative
More resources can be found on the USDA website
Tea & Coffee Trade Journal also recently reported on the changes here: