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Organic Certification for Processors, Handlers, Retailers

Including Brokers, Traders, Wholesalers, Importers, Exporters, & Private Label Brand Owners

Key Certification Requirements

Product and Facility

Handler certification is for products and operations that produce or handle organic products. Certification for processed or packaged products requires that both the ingredients in the products and the facility within which they are processed, packaged, and/or labeled be certified. Facilities must ensure that their practices include no commingling or cross-contamination with any conventional products or prohibited materials.

Processor vs Handler

Not all handlers are processors, but all processors are handlers. Confused? Don’t be. Some operations don’t actually process, package, or label products. Examples include private label owners who have products manufactured by others, retail stores, and companies that broker or trade organic products. These operations can also be certified as handlers.
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Handler Organic System Plans Include

  • The ingredients, formulations, and finished products
  • Proposed labels
  • Where and how the product is produced or processed
  • Your recordkeeping system that tracks traceability and confirms that you sourced enough certified organic ingredients to match the amount of organic products sold
  • Your organic fraud prevention plan 

Labeling Resources

International Market Labeling Guide

CCOF has developed this helpful guide to explain the requirements for labels on organic products sold in Canada, the EU, UK, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Mexico. All products being shipped to these markets under a U.S. Organic Equivalency Arrangement must meet the labeling requirements of the destination market. Please submit all labels to CCOF for approval prior to printing.

International Market Labeling Guide

Resources for Organic Handlers

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Rule is regulation put forth by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). This is the most significant change to the national organic regulations since the creation of the NOP. The rule is intended to safeguard confidence in organic products and minimize fraud throughout the organic supply chain. All operations – including both currently certified and newly impacted uncertified handlers of organic products – must meet all of the requirements in the rule by March 19, 2024. Handler operations can review key takeaways here. Importers and exporters should review this page. Retail Establishments can also review impacts here.

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