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Handling Unpackaged Organic Products

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce final guidance for handling unpackaged organic products. This guidance implements a recommendation from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and responds to findings from the Office of Inspector General.


In an October 2010 recommendation, the NOSB expressed concern that certain products were moving through unregulated segments of the marketing chain.

The NOSB noted that uncertified brokers, distributors, and traders lack the regular oversight of accredited certifying agents and the National Organic Program (NOP), opening the door for conventional products to be mislabeled as organic.

After reviewing public comments, NOP has clarified certification requirements for operations handling unpackaged organic products. If an operation:

  • Only handles organic products that are enclosed and remain in the same container without being processed or relabeled, the operation doesn't need to be certified organic.
  • Transports unpackaged organic products but doesn't handle them, the operation doesn't need to be certified. Certified organic producers and handlers must maintain records and ensure organic integrity throughout transport.
  • Handles unpackaged organic products, it must be certified organic.
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