Get to Know the "Q"
Quality Assurance International (QAI) began certifying agricultural products to the California State standard in 1989, before there was a national/federal organic standard. Founded by Griff McLellan, whose interest in the organic industry was piqued by his experience in testing organic produce for pesticide residues, QAI was the first certification agency to take a business-like approach to the certification process. Application and review forms were clear and concise, billing was based on cost and not client sales, and the field of organics was approached from a regulatory rather than political approach. From the beginning, QAI saw a long horizon for organic, understanding that consumer trust in organic claims could only be guaranteed through rigorous verification, inspection and assurance of organic practices.
As QAI's roster of highly-qualified employees and inspectors committed to organic principles grew, the company began to attract manufacturers who preferred a B2B relationship and to pay a service fee rather than a percentage of sales. QAI quickly emerged as a major leader in organic certification and the "Q" became a sought after and trusted trademark in the organic marketplace. QAI's leaders spent thousands of hours of time aligning with the Organic Trade Association, Senator Patrick Leahy and other influential members of Congress to push for a federal regulation for organic. It took more than 13 years of activism for organic to become federal law despite the public's increased demand for certified organic products. Finally, in October 2002, QAI was able to celebrate with other industry pioneers and leaders when the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 finally became federal law.
Today, QAI has grown to be one of the leading providers of organic certification services worldwide. As a USDA-accredited certifying agent (ACA), QAI's programs verify organic integrity at each link of the product handling chain, helping to assure compliance with organic standards for agricultural producers, food processing facilities, integrated manufacturing operations, contract packing operations, traders, distributors, retailers, and ultimately, for consumers.