Directive 10-07:
Certification Bodies' adherence to the interpretation questions related to the application of the Canada Organic Standard

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Date: December 15, 2010
1st Revision

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canada Organic Office
1400 Merivale Road
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0Y9

1.0 Purpose and Scope

This directive outlines the obligations of the CFIA accredited Certification Bodies to adhere to the interpretations of the Canadian Organic Standard (CAN/CGSB 32.310 and CAN/CGSB 32.311) provided by the Standards Interpretations Committee and considered official by the Canada Organic Office.

2.0 Authority

Reference documents:

  • The Organic Products Regulations (OPR)
  • Canada Organic Office Operating Manual
  • Canadian Organic Standard and the Permitted substances List (CAN/CGSB 32.310 and CAN/CGSB 32.311)

3.0 Background

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in partnership with the Organic Federation of Canada, has developed the Organic Standards Interpretation Committee (SIC). The mandate of the SIC is to provide to the Canada Organic Office, interpretive guidance on issues related to the application of the Canadian Organic Standard and the Permitted substances List (CAN/CGSB 32.310 and CAN/CGSB 32.311).

The members of the SIC are democratically chosen well respected representatives of the organic sector that bring together the collective knowledge of the industry. Requests for interpretations of the Canadian Organic Standars can be submitted to the SIC by anyone (e.g. operator, CB, CVB and etc.) to the Canada Organic Office.

The length of time required for SIC to respond to a request for interpretation depends on the scope and complexity of the question and the workload of the SIC. The SIC meets on a monthly basis and aims to respond to interpretive questions within a month. The decision is delivered to the Canada Organic Office as a proposed interpretation. The Canada Organic Office then posts the proposal(s) for a period of 60 days and unless there is strong, irresolvable opposition voiced by the sector the interpretation is posted on the CFIA web site. Once final, the interpretation is considered an official policy and is expected that all stakeholders adhere to it.

The Canadian Organic Standards are developed and maintained through a consensus process using balanced committees of experts that are made of Producers, Users and General Interest members who provide broad-based input to the standards. The Canadian General Standards Board manages this process and any interested party has the opportunity to make suggestions for amendments to the Standard.

4.0 Roles and Responsibilities

CFIA -accredited CBs will be responsible for the application of this directive.

CFIA designated CVBs will be responsible for monitoring the certification activities of the CFIA accredited CBs.

5.0 Activities

Certification Bodies

The CBs are obliged to follow the official SIC interpretations as posted on the CFIA web site to achieve uniform and consistent application of the rules to all operators through various CBs. The CBs have to inform their operators about these interpretations.


The operators are obliged to implement and follow the official SIC interpretations.

Conformity Verification Body

CVBs shall review the verification procedures and records during each onsite audit of the certification body.

6.0 Inquiries

Inquiries concerning this directive should be addressed to the Canada Organic Office.

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