Do retailers have to be certified?

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No, retail stores are not required to be certified. But they can choose to be in order to provide assurance to customers and go the extra mile to ensure that organic product integrity is maintained.

Retail food establishments (retailers) do not need to be certified in order to sell organic agricultural products. However, they are responsible for verifying and maintaining the organic integrity of those products and cannot label the product as certified organic or use the USDA seal. The retailer also needs to comply with product composition requirements and labeling requirements under the regulations.

If you do wish to certify your retail store, organic certification involves the same standards as processor organic certification and is applied to specific departments in the store, e.g., produce, meat, bulk foods, etc.

We verify that organic products in certified departments are handled in a manner that maintains their organic integrity until they are in the hands of the customer and meets USDA NOP organic product handling standards. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verification of compliant signage and organic claims
  • Verification of organic sources
  • Prevention of contamination with pest control materials
  • Prevention of contamination with sanitation materials (used on organic food/contact surfaces)
  • Prevention of commingling of organic products with non-organic products, both on display and in storage/receiving

Apply for certification of your retail store by completing an application and sending it to ccof@ccof.org!