The Organic Trade Association begins organic fraud task force

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is issuing an organic fraud task force following the account of a million pounds of grains from Turkey falsely selling as organic. With the help of three senators, the OTA has requested the Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to apply higher standards on organic imports with the implementation of a practice guide.


“We want to develop a best practices guide specific to organic systems and certification,” explains Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of regulatory and technical affairs for the OTA. The guidelines will implement several assessments, including risk and vulnerability, alerting, reporting and mitigation strategies.


In addition to the execution of stricter guidelines, the association is also calling for a revision of the 2018 Farm Bill, one that will require importers of goods to possess organic certifications to further reduce the risk of fraudulent claims. To fulfill this request, the OTA is also asking for a budget increase of $5 million for new technology.


Although the general food industry is guided by rigorous standards, the organic food industry is particularly under the spotlight where reputation is a fundamental factor for success. General manager of Awe Sum Organics, Matt Landi, says that “one incident can influence your reputation and make a very big difference. That’s why we go through the pains to personally verify our supply chain, in addition to other steps we take, including an in-depth compliance process.” Tanimura & Antle’s vice president Samantha Cabaluna also agrees to upholding the standards of the organic industry from a buyer’s perspective, suggesting that “if you’re buying organic, you want to buy from someone with a stellar reputation to protect.”


Seeing that Canada and The United States share one of the largest bilateral trading relationships in the world, the OTA’s mission to create an organic fraud task force will only serve to protect the Canadian food sector. With extra monitoring and an additional set of requirements to be met, the practice guide will filter Canada’s supply chain and increase the trust of the organic industry. Ultimately, this OTA’s task force will reduce the possibility of fraudulent claims on Canada’s imported products from the US and tighten the high-regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.


The task force is scheduled to begin in July and will prepare a guideline for the Natural Products East Expo in September.