US to test ‘organic food’ more strictly

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th November 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that periodic testing of organic food will be implemented from the start of 2013.

Current USDA regulations require organic-food producers to undergo an initial inspection to be certified. However, the new regulations will see periodic testing become mandatory for certification.

At least 5 per cent of certified organic food suppliers in the USA will be periodically tested for prohibited pesticides, genetically modified organisms and other substances that could breach organic certification, although these differ by product category.

The new periodic testing is set to protect the integrity of the organic food industry, which frequently comes under speculation. Australian Food News reported last month on a Stanford University study that found there was little evidence to support the belief that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.

The USDA rule effective from January 1, 2013 is as follows:

“This final rule clarifies a provision of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the regulations issued thereunder that requires periodic residue testing of organically produced agricultural products by accredited certifying agents. The final rule amends the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to make clear that accredited certifying agents must conduct periodic residue testing of agricultural products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).” The final rule expands the amount of residue testing of organically produced agricultural products by clarifying that sampling and testing are required on a regular basis. The final rule requires that certifying agents, on an annual basis, sample and conduct residue testing from a minimum of five percent of the operations that they certify. This action will help further ensure the integrity of products produced and handled under the NOP regulations.”