Who can file a complaint?
Anyone who suspects a violation of the USDA organic regulations.
What information should I provide?
When you report an alleged violation, provide as much information as possible to help ensure a thorough investigation (see example below). If you are willing to discuss the issue further and wish to be notified when the case is closed, also provide your name and contact information.
Example: Common Labeling Violations
- Using the USDA organic seal without being certified organic
- Using the word "organic" on the front of the package when the ingredients are organic, but the entire product is not certified organic
- Using the USDA organic seal on a multi-ingredient product that only has a small amount of organic ingredients (less than 95 percent of the total product)
In these cases, please provide:
- Brand name of the product
- Certifying agent of the product
- Any lot numbers (or “best by / before” dates) on the product
- Name of the product manufacturer or distributor
- Detailed explanation of the identified regulatory violation
- Actual product package or copy of the product label
What happens after I submit a complaint?
The National Organic Program (NOP)* will review your complaint and determine how best to proceed. This may include coordinating a thorough investigation with the operation’s certifying agent. If the suspected violation is confirmed, the operation could be subject to financial penalties up to $11,000 per violation or suspension or revocation of its organic certificate. If you provided your contact information, the NOP will contact you when the case is closed.
*Complaints involving operations in California are referred to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and follow a similar process. Why are these handled differently?
Help Us Protect Organic Integrity!
File a complaint by:
Mail: NOP Compliance and Enforcement Branch
Agricultural Marketing Service
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Mail Stop 0268, Room 2648-S
Washington, D.C. 20250-0268
Interested in compliance and enforcement news? Check out the most recent version of the Organic Integrity Quarterly, announced through the NOP Organic Insider!