Accreditation and recognition of certifying bodies

Who is the competent authority responsable for certification in Québec?

In Quebec, as required by the Act Respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims, the Conseil des Appellations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants (CARTV) designates certification bodies whose role is to certify that agricultural and food products to be marketed in Quebec as organic meet all requirements of the Québec Organic Reference Manual as well as any other organic standard used to certify organic products in Québec.

The bodies authorised by CARTV to certify products originating in Québec must have been accredited by the Board following an evaluation carried out by the Committee on Accreditation for Evaluation of Quality (CAEQ, autonomous technical unit of CARTV) with respect to ISO 17065 and additional requirements.

Products originating from outside of Quebec are accepted if certified by a certifier listed on the list of accredited certification bodies published by the CFIA.

Who is the competent authority responsable for certification in Canada?

Under the Organic Products Regulations in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) designates accredited bodies that are authorized to certify organic products when they are sold outside their province of origin in Canada or exported (interprovincial and international market). Products imported and marketed in Canada are subject to the same requirements. The list of accredited certification bodies may be consulted on the CFIA's website. Since the CAEQ is recognized by the CFIA as a conformity verification body within the Canada Organic Regime (COR), any certifiers evaluated by the CAEQ with respect to the criteria from the CFIA can be accredited by the Agency and included in the list of accredited certification bodies.

How many accredited certifiers are there in Québec?

There are currently six who are CARTV-accredited: Ecocert Canada, LETIS S.A., Organisme de Certification Québec Vrai (OCQV), Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd., Quality Assurance International (QAI Inc.) and TransCanada Organic Certification Services (TCO Cert.)

How is an accredited certification body different from one that is not?

In Quebec, the Act Respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims (A20.02) paved the way towards establishing an accreditation program for certifiers, once the organic designation had been officially reserved in February 2000. Included within this program was an accreditation procedure, whereby certification bodies could submit an application and then have their operations, and their certification reviewed and audited by the CAEQ who is the body ensuring that their certification program conforms to ISO/IEC 17065 requirements, which are also consistent with international reference standards.

Certificates issued by a non accredited body are not valid when an Act or a regulation requires these certificates to be issued by an accredited certification body.

What is the difference between an accredited and a recognized certification body?

Accreditation of certification bodies granted by CARTV is reserved for those certifiers carrying out inspection and certification activities within the province of Quebec. Recognition of certification bodies involves a less complex procedure, and only targets those bodies certifying products accepted from outside of Quebec and sold within its markets (i.e: organic aquaculture).

Note that if any recognized body wishes to certify organic products in Quebec, it must obligatorily obtain accreditation from the CARTV.

Do certification bodies that certify Québec operators' products complying with Canadian standards have to be accredited by the CARTV?

Yes. The organic production method is a reserved designation in Québec and falls under the Act Respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims, which stipulates that any organization that certifies organic products in Québec must be accredited by the CARTV. Accreditation applications must be submitted to the Committee on Accreditation for Evaluation of Quality (CAEQ).

Can all CAEQ/CARTV-accredited certification body have certification activities in Québec?

If the certifier already operates within Canada and is also carrying out certification activities in Québec, it only has to submit an application to the CAEQ to extend its geographical scope. The CAEQ will carry out a documentary review before granting the right to certify within Québec. The name of the accredited body must first have been published in the Gazette officielle du Québec prior to the issuing of any organic certificate of conformity to a Quebec operator.