Canada

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Canadian Organic Regime (COR) and Quebec Organic Reference Standards

On June 30, 2009, the Canada Organic Regulations went into force. The regulations are the Government of Canada's response to requests by the organic stakeholder groups to develop a regulatory system for organic products to address consumer protection and domestic and international market access issues. The regulations were published on June 24, 2009, after submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and after a 75-day comment period by industry stakeholders. They are overseen and enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). You may access the text of the Canada Organic Products Regulations online.

The scope of the regulations is food and drink intended for human consumption, food intended to feed livestock, (including agricultural crops used for this purpose), and also to the cultivation of plants. Operators based in Canada doing product within this scope are required to be certified to COR. Operators based in Quebec COR, which was adopted as the intraprovincial standard in 2012, however additional provincial requirements may apply. Compliance to Quebec requirements is overseen by the Conseil des appellations reservées et des termes valorisants (CARTV). Quebec's scope includes the same scope as COR, and additionally includes: aquaculture; products declaring more than 70% in the ingredient panel; personal care and cosmetic products declaring organic ingredients; and organic or 70-95% organic. Additional requirements for greenhouse operations also apply.

For crop certification under COR, note that per the Canada Organic Products Regulations, Schedule 1, and the Canadian Standard, CAN/CGSB 32.310-2006, 5.1.1, the standard shall be fully applied on a production unit for at least 12 months before the first harvest of products, and substances not listed in the Canada Permitted Substances List, CAN/CGSB 32.311-2006, shall not have been used for at least 36 months before the harvest of any organic crop. The Canada Organic Products Regulations also require that in the case of an initial application for an organic certification of field crops or in-ground greenhouse systems that the application for certification must be filed 15 months before the day on which the product is expected to be marketed. During that period of time, compliance to (or with) the Canadian Standard will be assessed by the certification body, and this assessment must at least include one inspection of the production unit during production in the year before field crops may be eligible for certification and one inspection during production in the year field crops are eligible for certification.

Standards

Canada

The Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards (CAN/CGSB 32.310-2006) and Permitted Substances List (CAN/CGSB 32.311-2006) are the main standards documents that organic operators in Canada need to consult. You may consult the Canada standard and the Canada Permitted Substances List on the CFIA website.

There is an equivalency agreement between the US and Canada with their respective standards. More information can be found regarding the US/Canada Equivalency agreement on the National Organic Program (NOP) and CFIA websites, including the ingredients/processes that are considered exempt from this agreement and for which additional information must be obtained.

Quebec

The Quebec Organic Reference Standards are reviewed periodically and are subject to periodic changes. They are available on the CARTV website.

For certified operators shipping product to Quebec, the rules, including labeling, are outlined in the "Regulations Pertaining to Acceptance of Products Coming from Outside of Quebec" are available on the CARTV website.

Organic Products Regulations 2009

The Organic Products Regulations is the principle legislation of COR. This document does not change without going through Parliament. It is not subject to frequent changes. You may reference the Organic Products Regulations 2009 and the Canada Organic Office Operating Manual.

The Act Respecting Reserved Designations and Value Added Claims is the governing legislation of the Quebec Standard. It gives the Minister the power to recognize reserved designations, to authorize added-value claims by regulation and to define the standards to be met by products in order to qualify for those designations or claims. It is subject to period updates and is available on the CARTV website.

Labeling to the Standard

Labeling requirements to the COR standard are found Part 3(24-25) of the Organic Products Regulations. Bulk labeling requirements to COR are found in the Canadian Standard (CAN/CGSB 32.310-2006), section 8.5.2.

Labeling requirements for Quebec are found in section 9 of the Quebec Organic Reference Standards, and in section 4.6 of the Regulations Pertaining to Acceptance of Products Coming from Outside of Quebec. Organic product entering into Quebec must be labeled in compliance to the Quebec Standards.

Both the Canadian logo and the Quebec logo are optional. To use the Canadian logo, please contact your Certification Project Manager for the artwork. Quebec based operators only are permitted to use the Quebec logo. If you wish to use the Quebec logo, you must apply to CARTV. You may apply on the CARTV website.

Additional Resources

The US and Canada have an equivalency agreement with exceptions to the agreement needing verification. For product that is NOP certified and being shipped into Canada, under the terms of the equivalency agreement, ingredients must not be subject to hydroponic/aeroponic production, and must not be grown with Chilean (Sodium) Nitrate. Non ruminant animal products are also subject to additional stocking requirements. For product that is COR certified being marketed to the US, dairy ingredients must not have been derived from animals treated with antibiotics.

We've developed two affidavits for verification and they are available here:

Please also check our current and past newsletters, where even more information about Canada may be found.

For additional questions, please contact Kasey Moctezuma at 858-200-9720 or kasey@qai-inc.com.

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