The USDA is revoking the permits of two organic food inspection agencies. It's a step in the right direction.
On March 02, USDA announced that it was revoking its accreditation of two certifying agencies, Certified Organic, Inc. (COI) and Guaranteed Organic Certification Agency (GOCA).
USDA says COI failed to
- Communicate with hired inspectors about proper procedures or ensure they were adequately trained
- Adhere to internal procedures according to their operational manual
- Keep confidentiality agreements on file for all employees with knowledge about certification applicants or operations
- Indicate on certificates the effective dates for organic certification,
- Ensure adequate training for employees about the regulations
- Provide clients with cost estimates including inspection fees
- Clearly identify the company's responsibility to pay for any required pre- or postharvest testing
- Verify organic system plans against the actual practices of their certified operations
GOCA's problems had to do with "persistent noncompliance," including such things as "failure to require clients to use defined boundaries and border zones as required by the organic standards." This may all sound absurdly bureaucratic but it means the certifiers could be overlooking producers' violations of organic standards.