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Organic Verification and Certification

The organic certification process was defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is monitored by the National Organic Program (NOP). Organic Certification is designed to certify every step of the organic chain, in strict accordance with NOP guidelines. From the land on which the product is grown, to the producers growing the product, from the post-harvest facilities preparing the product, to the processing and handling facilities transforming the product the certifying agents job is to verify that organic integrity is maintained.
 
OTA works closely with USDA, NOP, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and many OTA member certifiers to help ensure that your organic food is truly organic. 
 
From farm to fork, we all work together under USDA oversight. 
 

CLICK THROUGH TO LEARN HOW THE PROCESS WORKS:

Farming
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STEP 1:
Improving the quality of the soil is the basis for organic. The farm’s soil must be free of prohibited substances for a minimum of three years prior to harvesting crops that will be labeled as organic. The organic requirements encourages farmers to improve soil fertility and rotate crops to naturally increase crop yields and disease resistance.
Harvesting
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STEP 2:
Organic crops are picked, cut, and cleaned in the field. To ensure organic integrity, certifying these operations through inspections and records evaluation is necessary. Equipment used for harvesting and processing must be cleaned and sanitized in accordance with organic requirements.
Packaging
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STEP 3:
Packaging may occur in the field, at a facility or where a product is cleaned, canned or bagged, and given a product label, name or an identification number, such as a UPC code. Through inspection and records evaluation, organic products are verified to make sure organic integrity has been maintained through the packaging process.
Processing
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STEP 4:
Organic crops can be processed further with other organic crops or spices. To ensure the organic integrity of a product has been maintained, a USDA-accredited certifying agent must inspect these operations to verify that they are operating according to the organic regulations.
Labeling
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STEP 5:
Labeling is a very important part of organic. How agricultural products have been handled, processed, and combined with other ingredients determines their organic label. Certifying agents verify that organic products are accurately labeled:
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Shipping
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STEP 6:
Products are shipped to distributors or to retail stores. To ensure ongoing organic integrity, products must be protected from contamination by non-organic products. Prior to loading and unloading, trucks are verified for shipping practices that maintain such integrity, such as the prevention of commingling of organic and non-organic products and impermeable packaging.
Distribution
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STEP 7:
Products are compiled from farms, processors, or other distributors to one central location in order to distribute products. If an organic product is repackaged, perhaps to smaller sizes, inspections are done to confirm that organic integrity has been maintained.
Retail
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STEP 8:
By selecting products that carry the USDA’s organic seal or a certifier’s mark, consumers can be rest assured that each step in that product’s organic supply chain meets the NOP requirements.
From farm to fork, we are all working together under usda oversight
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About the USDA Organic Standards


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