Enforcing standards for organic foods

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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The NOP has brought on several penalties and agreements in the first part of 2016. 
WASHINGTON – National Organic Program (NOP) enforcement activities netted five settlement agreements and civil penalties of nearly $930,000 in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, the US Dept. of Agriculture reported.

In fiscal 2015, the agency recorded 13 settlement agreements and more than $1.8 million in civil penalties. In the last three fiscal years, NOP processed and closed 260, 285 and 390 complaints, respectively.

“We take our enforcement role seriously, because we know it is essential to creating a level playing field for all organic stakeholders and maintaining consumer confidence in organic products,” Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, said in a post about the agency’s enforcement activities.

Steps the agency can take to address alleged violations include issuing cease-and-desist letters or Notices of Warning. In more serious cases, NOP can suspend or revoke a company’s organic certification or accreditation in addition to imposing civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. McEvoy wrote the agency continues to strengthen its enforcement capabilities.

“To support our efforts, the Organic INTEGRITY Database now allows certifying agents to regularly update the list of organic operations they certify,” according to McEvoy. “And by publicizing fraudulent organic certificates, the NOP increases awareness within the organic trade community when we uncover violators.”

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