The British Columbia Certified Organic Program is a voluntary agri-food quality program sanctioned by the Government of British Columbia through the Organic Certification Regulation under the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act. The COABC is designated as the provincial program administrator, working closely with ministry staff in monitoring the program's credibility and acceptance in domestic and international markets.
Program administration activities are focused on auditing its member certifying associations for compliance and administering the use of the program's official mark, which is comprised of the prescribed phrase "British Columbia Certified Organic" and the symbol "checkmark in a box". The COABC also carries out initiatives that support the growth of the sector in the province.
Further in June 2009 the COABC was designated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a Conformity Verification Bodies (CVB). A CVB is an organisation that has an agreement with the CFIA under subsection 14(1) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act to assess, recommend for accreditation and monitor certification bodies.
COABC has undertaken the CVB role in relationship to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulation (Part 13) which require mandatory certification to the National Organic Standard for agricultural products represented as organic in international and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the federal organic agricultural product legend (or federal logo). Click here for further details on the Canadian Organic Regime.
British Columbia's organic sector is strengthened by provincial and federal legislation that support the integrity of the certification program. Internationally harmonized organic standards and an ISO 17011 compliant accreditation system combine to provide a credible organic designation for local consumers and an accepted certification program for exports.
The BC Certified Organic program is open to any resident or business operating in the province that undertakes to comply with program requirements. Participation rates in the provincial program have increased steadily since the program's inception and now represent approximately 88% of the certified enterprises in the province.
The COABC offers two accreditation programs for Certification Bodies (CBs): BCCOP and COR. Under BCCOP there are three schemes available – BCCOP Regional, BCCOP Low-Risk and BCCOP Equivalent.
All CBs are accredited to the BCCOP, while some CBs are additionally accredited to the federal COR program. COR CBs offer the level of certification necessary for product traded interprovincially and/or internationally. COR CBs are also accredited to the BCCOP Equivalent scheme, enabling use of the BCCOP Checkmark outside of the province.
BCCOP Regional certification is appropriate for operators who do not sell product outside of BC.
Some CBs additionally offer the BCCOP Low-Risk scheme. This scheme allows operators to apply to be assessed based on low-risk criteria. If an operator meets risk-assessment criteria, the frequency of inspections may be reduced for a 3-year period.
How to Apply
COABC accepts applications for accreditation from Certification Bodies based in British Columbia. Potential applicants should contact the accreditation(a)certifiedorganic.bc.ca for more information. Detailed information regarding the process is found in the BCCOP Accreditation Manual and COR Accreditation Manual (see below).
COABC Accreditation Board
The COABC Accreditation Board, operating independently from the COABC Board of Directors, oversees both Regional and COR accreditation.
- Chair - Maureen Loft
- BCCOP Producer Member - DeLisa Lewis, Nicolas Walser
- Processor/Preparer/Distributor Member - Alicia Hudson
- Consumer/Environmental Member - Renee Prasad
- Certification & Inspection Member - Rochelle Eisen, Anne Macey, Nadene Gurulé
- Ex-officio (BC Ministry of Agriculture) - Carolyn Teasdale
COABC Accreditation Board Manuals & Policy
- Accreditation Board Operating Manual (v1)
- BCCOP Accreditation Manual (v1): Manual for Certifying Bodies offering the BCCOP Checkmark
- COR Accreditation Manual (v1): Manual for the Surveillance of Certifying Bodies operating under the Canada Organic Regime
- BCCOP Operator’s Manual (v1): Organic Production Standards & the Labelling of Organic Products
- PL44 Impartiality & Conflict of Interest Policy