Agricultural Marketing Service
About AMS Newsroom Opportunity Online Forms Help Contact Us
 
 
Search AMS
   Browse by Subject
 
You are here: Home
 
National Organic Program
 
Strengthening Organic Integrity through Increased Residue Testing  

 
In late 2012, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) announced a strengthened residue testing program to help increase consumer confidence in the $32 billion organic industry worldwide. Consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market, and USDA is committed to meeting these expectations. This program will provide additional verification that organic farmers are following the rules and not using prohibited substances.

 
Beginning January 1, 2013, USDA organic certifying agents will test products from at least five percent of the organic farms and businesses that they certify each year. While testing has always been a part of organic product oversight, the new program specifies a minimum amount of testing that must occur.

 
This testing will help certifying agents identify and take enforcement action against farms and businesses intentionally using prohibited substances or methods, such as prohibited pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones or genetic engineering. Certifying agents can use test results to identify and address instances in which organic products may have unintentionally come in contact with prohibited substances.

 
The NOP has provided certifying agents with resources to help them comply with the new residue testing program. Certifiers currently conduct residue testing when they are concerned that a farm or business has used a prohibited substance or method. Certifying agents will continue to determine which organic farms and businesses should be subjected to testing. Some testing will likely be random, while other testing will be risk-based. Since there will be wide variety in how organic operations are selected and which tests are conducted, test results will not be used to make broad conclusions about a specific commodity or category of products.

 
The strengthened testing program also increases confidence in the integrity of USDA organic products among international trade partners. The U.S. currently has trade partnerships with the European Union and Canada, streamlining trade between three of the largest organic markets in the world. USDA is currently in discussions to consider similar arrangements with other foreign governments, creating new markets and jobs for organic farmers and businesses.
The new periodic residue testing program will discourage mislabeling and facilitate our oversight of USDA organic products around the world. Periodic residue testing is an important tool to protect the integrity of USDA organic products around the world.

 

 
Receive NOP Updates
 
  Be an Organic Insider!  
 
NOP Finder
 
  NOP Homepage  
 
  Consumer Information  
 
  Organic Standards  
 
  National Organic Standards Board  
 
  Organic Certification & Accreditation  
 
  Compliance & Enforcement  
 
General Information
 
  FAQs  
 
  About NOP  
 
  2010-2012 Strategic Plan (PDF)  
 
  Fact Sheets  
 
 
  Last Modified Date: 05/06/2014