- May 1, 2023
- Posted by: Felicia L
- Category: Food Safety
Organic certification is becoming increasingly important in Canada, as consumers look for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible food choices. The Canadian Organic Regime (COR) sets out the standards for organic certification in Canada, including requirements for production methods, handling practices, and contamination from prohibited substances.
The Canadian Organic Regime
The Canadian Organic Regime is a federal regulatory program that establishes standards for organic certification in Canada. The program is administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and applies to organic products sold interprovincially or internationally and displaying the organic logo.
The COR sets out the requirements for organic production, which include requirements for the use of organic seeds and livestock, limitations on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and prohibitions on genetic engineering and irradiation.
Contamination from prohibited substances is also a major concern for organic certification. Organic products must be produced and processed separately from non-organic products, and steps must be taken to prevent contamination from prohibited substances such as synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Organic Certification Process
Food companies must apply for certification from an approved certification body to become certified organic. The CFIA accredits these certification bodies responsible for verifying that the company’s production methods and handling practices meet the organic standards set by the COR.
The certification process typically involves an inspection of the company’s facilities and records and an evaluation of its production methods and handling practices. The certification body will then issue a certificate of compliance if the company meets the organic standards set by the COR.
The certification process can take several months to complete, and companies must maintain ongoing compliance with the organic standards to maintain their certification.
Displaying the Canada Organic Logo
Once certified, food companies can display the Canadian organic logo on their products. The Canadian organic logo is a circular symbol with the word “Canada” in the center. It is only permitted for products that contain at least 95% organic content certified through the Canadian Organic Regime requirements.
The organic logo is an important marketing tool for food companies that want to promote their sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Consumers can easily identify certified organic products by looking for the organic logo on the packaging.
Organic products that do not meet the requirements for the organic logo can still be sold as organic, but they cannot display the organic logo on their packaging. These products must still meet the organic standards set by the COR, and the CFIA may verify the validity of organic claims by evaluating the company’s production methods, checking records, and identifying areas where organic products may be contaminated with prohibited substances or come into contact with non-organic products.
As a food consumer, you can look at the Canadian organic logo to check if the food company is certified organic. When in doubt, you can report your doubt to the CFIA, as organic claims must be accurate, not deceive the customers, and meet Safe Food for Canadian’s requirements for Customer Protection.
Provincial Specific Organic Requirements
It’s important to note that the Canadian Organic Regime does not apply to organic products that are only sold within a province or territory and do not display the organic logo. However, provincial organic requirements may apply in certain provinces.
For example, in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Quebec, food companies must comply with provincial organic regulations and the federal organic standards set by the COR. These provincial regulations may include additional requirements for production methods, handling practices, and labelling.
You may view your specific provincial organic requirements here:
Benefits of Organic Certification
Organic certification can benefit food companies in several ways.
Firstly, displaying the organic logo on their products can help food companies differentiate themselves in the marketplace and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers willing to pay a premium for organic products.
In addition to the marketing benefits, organic certification can help food companies improve their production methods and reduce their environmental impact. The organic standards set by the COR encourage sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, such as using natural fertilizers and pest control methods and conserving soil and water resources.
By adopting these practices, food companies can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable food system. Organic certification can also help ensure that food products are produced socially responsibly, with fair labour practices and respect for animal welfare.
Challenges of Organic Certification
While organic certification can bring many benefits, it also challenges smaller food companies. The certification process can be time-consuming and costly, particularly for small-scale producers who may not have the resources to invest in the necessary infrastructure and documentation.
In addition, organic production methods may be less efficient and more labour-intensive than conventional methods, which can increase production costs and reduce yields. This can make it difficult for food companies to compete in the marketplace, particularly if consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for organic products.
Getting Started with Organic Claims and Organic Logo
As a food manufacturer, you should know that organic claims and the Canadian Organic logo must meet certain regulations and/or organic requirements. You must continue demonstrating that you meet the organic claims and logo requirements. To become certified organic, you must apply for certification from an approved certification body and undergo an inspection and evaluation process. Once certified, you can display the organic logo on your products as a symbol of your commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly production methods.
At SFPM Consulting, we help our food clients with food product labels for organic claims and certification. Our service includes everything from setting up the program to updating your organic products documentation to meet the organic requirements.
Want to know how we can assist your organic certification journey? Book an Organic Certification Blueprint session with Us
Regulating organic products in Canada. (2021, February 18). Government of Canada. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Retrieved April 30, 2023, from https://inspection.canada.ca/organic-products/regulating/eng/1328082717777/1328082783032
Canadian Organic Standards. (2023, March 14). Government of Canada. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Retrieved April 30, 2023, from https://inspection.canada.ca/organic-products/standards/eng/1300368619837/1300368673172