Organic products from Canada and the European Union (EU) will now be considered equivalent according to an agreement signed this week between the two. This is expected to sufficiently boost trade of organic products between the two markets. It’s also a feather in the cap for Canada’s organic industry since the EU has some of the toughest food labeling standards on the planet.
Over the last few years Canada has been striving to unify the various organic certification bodies across the country into a single set of standards. Two years ago it introduced the Organic Products Regulations and required certification bodies to be accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The regulations were based on certification requirements already existing in the EU and USA, with the view to eventually entering into equivalency agreements with them. At the time the regulations were introduced, the only provinces with any kind of organic labeling regulations were Quebec and BC.
So what does this mean to you?
Probably not much, but I suspect it means a lot to the organic industry in Canada and may ultimately affect the variety, and perhaps price, or organic products in our shops. As far as I can tell the agreement means that organic products made in Canada with European organic-certified ingredients will meet Canadian organic labeling standards, and vice versa. For example, if a company in the Canada is making jam using organic fruit and sugar from the EU then they should be able to label their product as organic. In the past there would have been no assurance that the EU ingredients were organic to the same standards as in Canada.
Current standards require that products must be made with at least 95% certified-organic ingredients in order to bear the Canada Organic label. Those using 70-95% organic ingredients need to carry additional information on the label. Under 70% doesn’t qualify at all.
What do you think of this new agreement?