Organic Products Regulations

Canada’s Organic Products Regulations came into force on June 30, 2009.  These regulations form the basis of a federally regulated system for organic agriculture, which applies to food products, animal feed and products used for the cultivation of plants. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the regulations.

The Regulations require that any agricultural product that is represented/marketed as organic must be certified to the Canadian Organic Standards. This means that any product bearing the Canada Organic Logo, whether intended for import, export, or inter-provincial trade, must be produced to meet the strict requirements of these standards, including:

  • how livestock must be housed, fed, transported and slaughtered;
  • how specific crops and produce are to be grown, extracted, processed and stored;
  • how pests and diseases are to be treated; 
  • which substances, methods and ingredients may not be used;
  • what environmental factors must be taken into consideration. 

To learn more about the Canadian Organic Standards, click here.

Imported and Exported Organic Products

Canada has established organic equivalency arrangements with a number of countries. This means that the regulatory systems of those countries have been assessed, and the outcomes achieved are consistent with Canada’s own regulations. To learn about equivalency agreements and to see a list of countries with which Canada has these agreements, click here.

Products being imported in Canada must meet the requirements specified in the Organic Products Regulations, including:

  1. A product must be certified to the Canadian Organic Standard;
  2. Certified as organic in accordance with an agreement between Canada and the exporting country, regarding the importation and exportation of organic products; and
  3. Certified as organic to the exporting country’s certification body.

Imported products that don’t meet Canada’s regulatory requirements cannot be marketed as organic in Canada, and may not bear the Canada Organic logo.

Importers of organic products must be able to demonstrate that the products conform to the import requirements at all times. The importers must retain all documents attesting to this fact. These documents will be verified by CFIA inspectors.

Organic food that is made and sold within the province of origin is subject to federal truthful labelling laws and may be subject to provincial organic regulations.

Organic Certification and Inspection

To be certified to the Canadian Organic Standards, a farm or facility producing organic products is verified by officers employed by certification bodies accredited by CFIA. In addition, verification officers conduct on-farm and facility inspections to verify that organic producers comply with the Canadian Organic Standards.

Organic produces are required to identify the Certification Body on the packaging of their organic products, in accordance with the labelling provisions in the Organic Products Regulations.

Inspection/enforcement

Verification officers employed by Certification Bodies conduct on-farm and facility inspections to verify that organic producers are conducting their operations in compliance with the Canadian Organic Standards. The Certification Body may suspend or cancel the organic certification.

For more information about organic certification and inspection, click here.