Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
- Avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives , etc), genetically modified organism, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge
- Use of farmland that has been free from synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more)
- Keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail)
- maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products
- Undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
Purpose of certification
Organic certification addresses a growing worldwide demand for organic food. It is intended to assure quality and prevent fraud, and to promote commerce. For organic producers, certification identifies suppliers of products approved for use in certified operations. For consumers, “certified organic” serves as a product assurance, similar to “low fat”, “100% whole wheat” or “no artificial preservatives”. Certification is essentially aimed at regulating and facilitating the sale of organic products to consumers. Individual certification bodies have their own service marks, which can act as branding to consumers—a certifier may promote the high consumer recognition value of its logo as a marketing advantage to producers.