Organic Claims

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Table of Contents

Overview

An organic product is an agricultural product that has been certified as organic under the Organic Products Regulations (OPR).

The OPR are designed to protect consumers against false and misleading organic claims and to govern the use of the organic logo. All aspects of food labels and advertising contribute to the overall impression a food product makes. Therefore, foods making organic claims must also comply with the General Principles for Labelling and Advertising.

The OPR apply to inter-provincially and internationally traded organic products. For information on organic products sold only within a province, refer to Organic Products Sold Intra-provincially.

Canada Organic Regime

Imported or inter-provincially traded agricultural products making an organic claim must be certified under the Canada Organic Regime (definition).

This includes products that:

  • are labelled as "organic",
  • bear the Canada organic logo or
  • declare "contains x% organic ingredients".

To be certified, operators must have their products certified by a CFIA -accredited certification body [Part 2, OPR] and develop an organic production system based on these Canadian Organic Standards

Imported Organic Products

Organic products imported from countries with whom Canada has established an equivalency arrangement must be certified to the terms of the arrangement.  These products must be certified by a certification body accredited by that foreign country and recognized by Canada under the arrangement.  These products may bear the Canada organic logo. Like all other food products, imported organic products must meet Canadian labelling requirements, including those of the Organic Products Regulations.

For more information on the Canada Organic Regime or to find a list of CFIA-accredited certification bodies, please refer to the Canada Organic Regime webpage.

For more information on equivalency arrangements please refer to the Equivalence Arrangements webpage.

Permitted Claims

Organic Claim

Only products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% may be labelled or advertised as "organic" or bear the organic logo. Terms such as "organically grown", "organically raised, "organically produced", or similar words, abbreviations of, symbols for and phonetic renderings of these words are considered the same as "organic" claims and must meet the same requirements. [24 (1), OPR].

For multi-ingredient products, the organic contents must be identified as organic in the list of ingredients [25(b), OPR].

The label of an organic product subject to the Organic Products Regulations must bear the name of the certification body that has certified the product as organic [25(a), OPR].

Organic Ingredients Claim

Multi-ingredient products containing between 95-100% organic content

Claims indicating "X% organic ingredients" where X is anywhere from 95-100% are permitted. However, the claim "organic" is encouraged as all products with 95% and over organic content may use this claim.

Multi-ingredient products containing between 70-<95% organic content

These products may use the declaration "contains x% organic ingredients" on the label or in advertising, specifying the percentage of organic ingredients. These products may not use the organic logo nor the claim "organic". [24 (2), OPR]

Conditions of use

If the declaration "contains x% organic ingredients" is used:

  • the words "organic ingredients" must be of the same size and prominence as the preceding words, numbers, signs or symbols that indicate the applicable percentage [24 (2), OPR].
  • The organic contents must be identified as organic in the list of ingredients [25(b), OPR].
  • The label of an organic product subject to the Organic Products Regulations must bear the name of the certification body that has certified the product as organic [25(a), OPR].

Multi-ingredient products containing less than 70% organic content

These products may identify organic ingredients in the list of ingredients as organic. These products may not use the organic logo nor the claims "organic" or "contains x% organic ingredients" [24(3), OPR].

Language Requirements

When used, the "organic" and the "% organic ingredients" claims or statements must appear on the label in both French and English, unless a bilingual labelling exemption applies to the product [21, OPR].

Organic on Labels Accompanying Bulk Products

If an organic claim is made on a label accompanying a bulk product, such as on a tag or sticker, then the name of the certification body must also appear on this label. Example: this applies to the use of organic claims and the organic logo on a Price Look-Up (PLU) sticker.

If the Canada organic logo is on the accompanying label of an imported product, the statement "Product of" immediately preceding the country of origin, or the statement "Imported" must be in close proximity to the logo.

Non Permitted Claims

100% Organic or 100% Organic (Product Name)

The "100% organic (product name)" claim is not permitted in Canada. All products with an organic content of 95% or greater are considered organic and may be labelled with the word "organic".

Certified Organic

All organic products, under the Canada Organic Regime, must be certified by a CFIA-accredited certification body. Therefore, the claim "certified organic" is considered misleading, as it implies to consumers that products not bearing this claim are not certified.

Exception: the statement "Certified by" or "Certified organic by" immediately followed by the name of the certification body, or as part of the certification body logo, is acceptable as it denotes who has certified the product.

Made with Organic Ingredients

The claims "made with organic ingredients" or "made with organic (naming the ingredient)" are not acceptable as it is not clear how much of the product is made with organic ingredients. Products with 70-95% organic content must declare the percentage of organic content on their label. Products with less than 70% organic content may only indicate which ingredients are organic in the ingredients list.

Use of the Organic Logo on Organic Products

The CFIA regulates the use of the Canada organic logo below (Figure 1). The use of the organic logo is only permitted on products that have an organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% and have been certified according to the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime. The use of the organic logo is voluntary but when used it is subject to the requirements of the OPR [22, 23, OPR].

Imported products must meet the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime. Imported products that bear the logo must include:

  • the statement "Product of", immediately preceding the name of the country of origin, or
  • the statement "Imported", in close proximity to the logo

These statement must appear on the label in both French and English, unless a bilingual labelling exemption applies. [21, 25(c) OPR].

this is an example of the permitted presentation of the Canada organic logo in colour this is an example of the permitted presentation of the Canada organic logo in black and white

Figure 1

The logo is displayed in either black with a white background, in black with a transparent background or in colour. If displayed in colour, the background is white or transparent, the outer and inner borders are green (Pantone no. 368), the maple leaf is red (Pantone no. 186) and the lettering is black [22, 23, OPR].

The Canada organic logo is available to organic operators through Canadian Food Inspection Agency accredited certification bodies.

Available online is a list of certification bodies that have either been accredited by the CFIA to certify organic products; or recognized under an organic trade equivalency arrangement with a foreign competent authority under the Regulations.

Use of Organic Logo in Advertising

Use of the organic logo for purposes other than to represent a product as organic will be permitted on a case-by-case basis. Persons wishing to use the logo will need to apply to the CFIA's Canada Organic Office for permission. Requests for an application for permission to use the Canada organic logo may be sent to the Canada Organic Office.

Organic Products Sold Intra-provincially

Organic products sold within the province of origin are not within the scope of the Organic Products Regulations. At the federal level, these are subject to the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, which prohibit false or misleading claims in labelling and advertising. Producers of intra-provincially traded products bearing organic claims are expected to be able to demonstrate that the product is organic.

All organic products bearing the Canada organic logo, including those sold intra-provincially, must comply with the OPR.

Provincial organic regulations also exist in some provinces. Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia currently have organic certification systems in place.

Organic Aquaculture

Aquaculture refers to the cultivation of seaweeds, aquatic plants or animals in a controlled or managed environment.

Aquaculture products with voluntary "organic" claims should meet the Canadian General Standards Board's National Standard of Canada for Organic Aquaculture (CAN/CGSB 32.312); published by the Standards Council of Canada in June 2012.

The Standard outlines principles for organic aquaculture production and specifies the minimum criteria that should be met when aquaculture products, their inputs and other products used in aquaculture production are defined as organic.

In order to demonstrate that an aquaculture product described as organic actually conforms to the voluntary national standard, producers or processors may ask an independent certifying body to certify the product. A food that has been certified by a certification body may be labelled as "organic" and bear the logo of the certification body. The product may not bear the Canada organic logo.

Definitions

Canada Organic Regime

The Government of Canada's regulated system for organic agricultural products.

Organic Product

An agricultural product that has been certified as organic under the Organic Products Regulations (OPR).

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