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Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions Program Launches

fraud prevention, OTA

In a major step by the organic industry to fight against fraud in the global organic system, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has launched its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program.

Organic businesses are voluntarily pre-enrolling in a program to help minimize or eliminate organic fraud both inside and outside of the U.S., according to OTA. The new program is based on the OTA’s tested and completed Organic Fraud Prevention Guide that provides businesses engaged in organic trade with a risk-based process for developing and implementing organic fraud mitigation measures.

“Fraud in the global organic supply chain poses a significant threat to the integrity of the organic brand,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA. “For the past two years, the Organic Trade Association has prioritized significant time and resources into organic fraud prevention solutions. We are fighting fraud on many fronts, including through the 2018 Farm Bill and through private sector initiatives. The more companies that join this industry-driven program, the stronger the organic supply chain will be.”

The global organic market has been on a steady rise for more than two decades and has never been bigger. It is now a nearly $90 billion market, with the American organic market alone accounting for close to $50 billion. Organic imports into the U.S. in 2017 totaled around $2.1 billion, up nearly 25 percent from the previous year. In recent years, however, investigations have revealed imported products fraudulently labeled as organic, and gaps in the complex organic supply chain.


Organic stakeholders already stepping up

Already, as of the end of March, 24 companies have pre-enrolled in the program. A number of them participated in a three-month pilot project last year that tested the program at their operations. The businesses represent the entire organic supply chain, from farm to processor and a diverse range of products, services and commodities including fresh produce, grain, dairy, eggs, meat, beverages, packaged and prepared foods, fiber and textiles, importers and consulting services.

Consulting firms Wolf, DiMatteo & Associates and Miles McEvoy of Lacewing LLC also have pre-enrolled in the program as “Trusted Advisors,” a category of professionals that may qualify and partner with Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions and work with enrolled companies to develop an Organic Fraud Prevention Plan. Trusted Advisors are experts in organic certification as well as in conducting vulnerability assessments and organic fraud mitigation plans.

The program is not a certification or verification program nor is it a product label, according to OTA: It is a quality assurance program designed to complement and reinforce USDA’s organic standards and the work of the accredited certifying agencies.

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