Making the switch from conventional to organic is a multiyear process that can have some substantial payoffs in terms of worker health, customer demand and food quality. Here are the top three things to consider before making the switch.
Is Your Operation and Products Eligible for Organic Certification?
The first step in making the switch to organic is ensuring that your facility is organic compliant. The USDA’s NOP (National Organic Program) wrote and defined the organic standard. We recommend checking out the USDA’s Guide for Organic Processors as a great way to implement organic practices on site.
In addition, food handlers need to make sure their single/multi-ingredient products are organic compliant. Single ingredient handlers will need to make sure they have a USDA organic certificate for products being purchased. Multi-ingredient handlers will need to make sure at least 95% of their product consists of certified organic ingredients by weight. The remaining 5% of ingredient(s) can be non-organic, however they need to comply with the National List.
How long does the organic certification process take?
Food handlers will need to obtain organic certification through a third party USDA accredited agency. Once an agency has been chosen and all the proper information has been submitted to the agency, the organic certification process takes about 2-3 months to complete. The agency will need to conduct an initial review of information collected, an inspection of the facility, and a final review of all the information gathered. Some agencies may offer an expedited process for an additional fee.
How much does organic certification cost?
The cost of organic certification varies agency to agency. Some agencies may charge a flat rate for inspection and some may charge hourly. Also, some agencies may charge based on product produced while others may charge based on your organic sales. It’s best to fully understand an agencies fee structure before moving forward with organic certification.
Organic food handlers in the State of CA are eligible for the CDFA organic cost share program.
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