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Resources for Retailers

If your operation is a retail food establishment, such as a grocery store or restaurant, it does not need to be certified. You may sell certified organic products that bear the USDA organic seal, as long as you don’t process them. 

If your retail food establishment processes certified organic products on its premises, the USDA organic regulations state that you must:

  • Prevent commingling with non-organic products and contact with prohibited substances.
  • Not use the USDA organic seal or refer to processed products as certified organic. If you would like to use the USDA organic seal, you must obtain organic certification.
Although retail establishments are not required to become certified, they may voluntarily seek certification. And, although retail establishments are not required to become certified, they do have the legal responsibility of preventing commingling and contamination of organic products with prohibited substances, and of keeping records that show products marketed as organic have been correctly handled from production through delivery to the customer. They are also required to comply with specific labeling requirements. 

OTA’s Participation in the Retailer Sector

OTA has been a leader in providing training and resources on retailer best practices since prior to the implementation of the NOP regulations. In 2004, in association with the International Organic Inspector’s Association (IOIA), OTA published a training manual entitled Good Organic Retailing Practices (GORP). The publication was widely distributed, and has provided great assistance to many retail establishments. Given the exceptional maturation and growth of the organic retailer sector, OTA intends to update the training manual post-release of anticipated Guidance from the National Organic Program in response to a unanimous recommendation from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).

OTA encourages and supports the following outcomes of NOP Guidance on Retailer Certification and Compliance:

  • Increased education and training opportunities for all retail establishments whether they are certified or non-certified operations. 
  • Increased awareness and visibility of the regulatory requirements that apply to non-certified retailers. 
  • Increased incentive for voluntary certification.
  • Increased NOP monitoring and oversight of retail establishments.
  • Consistent and compliant organic practices and messaging throughout the retail sector.
  • Increased consumer understanding and trust of organic claims.

OTA Guidance on Retail Certification and Compliance

Scott Rice

Sr. Director, Regulatory Affairs

(202) 695-1268