Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants.

The Organic designation

The Organic designation

The Organic designation

Who determines whether an input can be used in an organic production method?

In most cases, certification bodies determine whether the use of an input in agricultural activities or preparation activities complies with organic standards.

If a retailer inadvertently sells products supplied to it by a producer or processor in a condition that does not comply with the Act respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims, is the retailer liable to prosecution?

If a producer or processor supplies products described as organic to a business without being compliant with the Act, and if the retailer shares no responsibility whatsoever for the offence, the retailer will not be prosecuted. On the other hand, anybody, including a retailer, who sells, packages or labels products as organic in the knowledge that these operations do not comply with the specifications for the Organic designation in Québec is liable to penalties defined by the Act.

Is certification of a product under the Canadian standard for products from outside Canada valid in Québec?

A Canada Organic Regime certificate given to organic products from a country other than Canada is valid for “imported” products everywhere in Canada, including Québec, provided that the organization that certified the products concerned is on the list of accredited bodies published by the CFIA and that the country of origin of these products falls within the geographical scope of the accreditation issued. Under equivalence agreements between Canada and other countries, it is sometimes necessary to obtain an additional attestation or certificate.

What documents should suppliers of organic products present to me?

If you wish to purchase organic products from a supplier, make sure that the supplier shows you a certificate of organic compliance issued by an accredited certification body.

What standards must be observed in the processing of organic foods?

Preparation and processing methods must be mechanical, physical or biological. The use of ingredients and additives of nonagricultural origin must be reduced to the greatest extent possible. Additives and manufacturing aids must not be added to a product except to maintain its nutritional value, improve its natural conservation or its stability, and to give it a composition, consistency and appearance that will not disappoint consumers with regard to its nature, substance and quality.

For more details, please see the specifications.

What rules apply to the handling and conditioning of organic foods, including bulk sales?

Details on good practice in handling and conditioning organic products can be found in this document (in French only).

Are there any commercial activities in which the sale of organic products does not require certification?

You are not required to be certified if you sell organic products and:

  • You do not engage in any activity that could lead to the breakage of the original packaging or label of certified products (purchase/resale)
  • You do not sell organic products in bulk (products in bins, fruits and vegetables, or any other products not labeled by the supplier)
  • The operations you perform on certified products are only minor (cutting up, slicing, shaving) and do not have the effect of changing the product, altering its integrity, or removing the original label, and are performed in front of customers and at their request
  • Your operations are those of a restaurateur, caterer or home chef. However, you are required to use organic ingredients at all times and you must be able to demonstrate this to inspectors from the Conseil des Appellations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants.

Who must obtain certification of their products or operations?

Any business that is involved in the production or preparation (processing, handling, labelling, packaging, bulk sale or repackaging) of products bearing the Organic designation or any other reference to organic production must obtain certification. This is granted further to an inspection carried out by an accredited certification body. Wholesale or retail establishments that buy and sell products without modifying their packaging, labelling or content are not required to obtain certification. For further details, follow this link.

Must Québec operators have their organic products certified by a body accredited by the Conseil des Appellations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants?

Yes. This is required by the Act respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims in Québec. In addition, if an operator sells its organic production to a customer outside Québec, either in other Canadian provinces or abroad, it must obtain certification under the Canada Organic Regime from an organization accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Generally, a certification body accredited by the Conseil des Appellations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants is also accredited by the CFIA and offers this service at the same time.

What products can obtain organic certification?

Any product that is destined for human or animal consumption, including aquaculture products, and any of whose operations (production, wild-harvest, processing, packaging, repackaging, labelling, conditioning) is carried out by a business located in Québec, or that is on sale in Québec, may be certified Organic. For further details consult the specifications by following this link

Products from outside Québec must first be certified by an accredited body or recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the Canada Organic Regime.

Cosmetic products, natural health products, body care products, cannabis and textile products are not supervised by the Conseil. They may be certified to private standards.

How can I check that an organic product is genuine?

You can quickly check whether a product is genuine by looking for the name of the certification body spelled out on the product packaging. (The name may be contained within a logo.) You can also consult the Directory of Québec Certified Organic Products, or ask the retailer or producer for the product’s certificate of organic compliance. If you have doubts, you can send us a request for verification, also known as a “complaint”.

What is an organic product?

The designation Organic (together with its synonyms and derived terms) is protected by the Act respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims. An organic product must meet the requirements of the specifications: this is verified by a certification body accredited by the Conseil des Appellations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants. A list of certification bodies can be found here.