February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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USDA Finalizes the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule

  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the National Organic Program (NOP) as authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA).  The USDA organic regulations, which were published on December 21, 2000, and became effective on October 21, 2002, govern the production, handling, labeling, and sale of organically produced agricultural products.  On August 5, 2020, in response to mandates in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, as well as pressure from the industry and recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), USDA published a proposed rule called Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) that is aimed at preventing loss of organic integrity—through unintentional mishandling of organic products and intentional fraud meant to deceive—and strengthening trust in the USDA organic label. 

  • On January 19, 2023, USDA published the SOE final rule.  The final rule includes clarifications and additional examples in response to comments received on the SOE proposed rule.  Key updates include:

    • Requiring certification of more businesses, like brokers and traders, at critical links in organic supply chains;

    • Requiring NOP Import Certificates for all organic imports;

    • Requiring organic identification on nonretail containers;

    • Increasing authority for more rigorous on-site inspections of certified operations;

    • Requiring uniform qualification and training standards for organic inspectors and certifying agent personnel;

    • Requiring standardized certificates of organic operation;

    • Requiring additional and more frequent reporting of data on certified operations;

    • Creating authority for more robust recordkeeping, traceability practices, and fraud prevention procedures; and

    • Specifying certification requirements for producer groups.

  • The compliance date for the SOE final rule is March 19, 2024, or 12 months after the effective date of March 19, 2023. 

© 2023 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 23
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About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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