Q&A: Organic and Specialty Certifications
How long does the certification process take?
Generally, the process takes about eight to 10 weeks from receipt of payment and all data required for review. We also offer various levels of rush services.
How much does it cost to be certified?
The fee for QAI’s organic certification depends on various factors (e.g., size of operation, location, etc.). A fee schedule is provided with the QAI application for organic certification.
Who sets the regulations that govern Quality Assurance International (QAI) as an accredited organization of the United States Department of Agriculture?
QAI certifies to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. While QAI does not develop the regulations, QAI is actively involved in the industry working groups and the National Organic Standards Board to help ensure long-term consumer trust in organics.
QAI strictly follows regulations established by the NOP, the federal regulation that ensures all USDA requirements are met. As part of its accreditation, QAI updates programs and policies as needed to ensure ongoing compliance with NOP regulations. The NOP website provides more information on the role of accredited organizations.
Just as consumers in the United States rely on the NOP and its accredited certifiers to ensure that all organic-labeled food destined to enter the U.S. meets U.S. organic production and labeling laws, other countries and regions (including Japan, Canada and the European Union) have similar governance. For more detailed information on global organic regulations, visit the QAI website.
What does "certified organic" mean?
In the United States, “certified organic” means that a nonprofit, state or private certification organization, such as QAI, which has been accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has verified that products labeled as “organic” meet strictly defined organic standards.
Similarly, in some global markets, “certified organic” means that a certification organization, such as QAI, has been approved by an accreditation body to certify products in the respective international markets.
What is organic?
In the United States, organic is defined as a production system managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act and the National Organic Program to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.
Source: USDA - National Organic Program 2001
Other countries and regions, including Japan, Canada and the European Union, have their own federal regulations covering the production and labeling of organic foods.
For more information about international regulations for organics, visit the QAI website.