Requiring certification

To protect organic integrity, most entities in the organic supply chain that produce or handle organic products require organic certification. There are limited exemptions outlined in §205.101 that do not require organic certification.
Businesses who perform the following organic activities require organic certification:

  • Growing or producing organic products.
  • Handling organic products, such as:
    • Selling, trading, or facilitating the sale or trade
    • Processing (Cooking, baking, curing, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, slaughtering, cutting, fermenting, distilling, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, chilling, or otherwise manufacturing and includes the packaging, canning, jarring, or otherwise enclosing food in a container)
    • Packaging, containerizing, repackaging, or labeling
    • Importing into the United States
    • Exporting from another country into the United States
    • Combining, aggregating, culling, conditioning, or treating
    • Storing, receiving, or loading

Do I need certification if I apply labels to packaged and sealed organic products?

If you apply a label that makes an organic claim — e.g., uses the word organic, the USDA organic seal, etc. — you must be certified. Labels (such as pallet tags) without organic claims do not require certification.

Do I need certification if placing a sealed organic product into additional, labeled packaging?

If the additional packaging makes an organic claim you must be certified. However, additional packaging labels without organic claims do not require certification.

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