Organic Certifying Agency Looks Ahead to Stricter Organic Regulations

Organic veg

A ten-year forecast on the organic industry was released last week by leading certifier of organic products, QAI (Quality Assurance International).

In 2012, more than 55,000 products were certified by QAI, which is one of 87 accredited certifying agents recognized by the USDA. As the top-ranking organic certifier, QAI has seen rapid growth in the organic sector, awarding nearly 1,700 distinct certifications since the USDA began enforcing regulations on organic claims in 2002. And, there will be considerably more land going toward organic farming and food processing over the next decade, predicts the agency.

More shifts lay ahead for the organic sector, according to QAI: consumers will be looking for more transparent and trusting relationships with their food suppliers. The industry will provide more tools (think smart phone apps and web tracking), and shoppers can also expect stricter regulations on the term organic in years to come, particularly as it pertains to marketing claims such as when used by a spa or restaurant. In the same vein, consumers can expect to see more food safety and product integrity align with “certified organic” claims. Audits of farms and facilities will become more frequent and better coordinated to include other certifications (such as kosher or gluten-free).

The growing concern over genetic modification will become more prudent in 2013 with voluntary labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients. And companies making efforts to be more sustainable and decrease their company footprint on the environment will also see more attention and focus at the store level. There will also be more attention to currently-unregulated categories that may use the term organic, including pet food, personal care items, household cleaning products, supplements and fresh flowers.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.