US: USDA mulls tougher organic inspection rules
Posted: March 26th, 2012 - 11:16am
Source: The Packer
Federal officials are considering how to implement unannounced inspections of certified organic operations and beef up qualification criteria for inspectors, at the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board.
In a March 21 memo to the NOSB, the deputy administrator of the National Organic Program, Miles McEvoy, responded to those and other recommendations the standards board made at its 2011 fourth-quarter meeting.
Recommendations for inspector qualifications are:
A baseline pre-requisite expertise for initial organic inspectors;
Continuing education requirements for inspectors; and
Accreditation criteria for certifying agents to ensure adequate oversight.
McEvoy said in the memo that the NOP will use the recommendation to develop baseline criteria. He also said NOP has commissioned “additional work in this area” with the International Organic Inspectors Association.
In response to the NOSB recommendation for unannounced inspections, McEvoy said the NOP will “explore ways to implement inspection requirements to enhance organic integrity.”
The standards board had three specific recommendations regarding unannounced inspections, which the board members contend would help “uphold organic integrity” for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic certification seal.
The standards board wants mandatory unannounced inspections for at least 5% of certified operations each year. The board recommended the inspections could be random, risk-based or the result of a complaint or investigation.