VICTORIA: As of Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, people can buy British Columbia food products and beverages that are marketed as organic with more confidence, knowing that the products have been certified through an accredited provincial or federal program.
“People are more engaged then ever with how their food is grown and processed,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Requiring certification for the use of the term ‘organic’ for the sales of B.C. foods and beverages means producers are able to offer British Columbians an increased level of certainty about the farming and processing practices of their products.”
Under a new provincial regulation, organic food and beverage operators are now required to maintain up-to-date proof of certification. The regulation follows consultation with organic operators in 2015, and a subsequent transition period that included multiple announcements, an awareness campaign targeting growers, outreach at agriculture shows, conferences, agriculture association events and annual general meetings.
Previously, there were no official requirements for people who were selling or marketing B.C. food products as organic.
Certifying bodies, such as those that are members of the Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC), will ensure organic standards and requirements are met by producers and processors. The B.C. government will enforce any misuse of the term “organic”.
“The organic sector is grateful to the ministry for introducing the new organic product regulation. This step forward is so important for consumer clarity,” said Carmen Wakeling, president of COABC. “As we transition into the new regulation, we will continue working with the ministry to build a strong organic sector in B.C.”
The B.C. government will use a graduated enforcement approach that initially will focus on bringing businesses and individuals into compliance through education and warnings.
Uncertified operators marketing their food or beverage products as “organic” face possible penalties, including a $350 fine.
Certified organic operators will have the BC Certified Organic Checkmark, the Canadian organic logo or both logos on their products, as well as having valid certification at their business. COABC also maintains lists of certified organic companies operating within B.C. under the COABC umbrella. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency does the same for certified organic companies in B.C. that sell their goods in other provinces or countries.