USDA issues rule strengthening organic program

Read the full story at Food Dive.

USDA published a final rule to strengthen oversight on products that can bear the “USDA Organic” seal in an effort to reinforce a system that had been exploited to allow products that were not truly organic to slip through the cracks. The rule takes effect on March 19, 2024.

The 282-page rule requires more certification and training for people and businesses that deal with organic food worldwide, including importers, brokers and traders. It mandates more import certificates for organic products entering the country, gives the National Organic Program more oversight to take action against certifiers, and requires more unannounced inspections with more stringent requirements for organic operations. There are also new documentation requirements for containers that ship organic products, as well as certification and data reporting requirements.

Massive fraud in the USDA Organic certification was first exposed by The Washington Post in 2017, with reports on imported conventionally grown crops that became labeled as organic when they arrived in the United States. This rule is intended to tighten the weaknesses found in the program.

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