The British Columbia Certified Organic Program is a voluntary agri-food quality program sanctioned by the Government of British Columbia through the Organic Agricultural Products Certification Regulation under the Agri-Food Choice and Quality 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 Canadian Organic Products Regulations 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.
There are 3 different types of organic certification services available through the BCCO program; ISO 65, Regional and Low Risk. BCARA, FVOPA and PACS are ISO 65 accredited and this is the level of certification that is necessary for goods traded interprovincially and internationally. Regional satisfies intraprovincial certification needs and 8 accredited BCCO Certification Bodies (BOPA, Bio-D, IOPA, KOGS, LEOGA, NOOA, SOOPA, and STOPA) offer this level of service. Low risk is offered by IOPA and PACS and is only available to operators trading within the province. If an operation is assessed as being low risk the frequency of inspections is reduced for a 3 year period, allowing the producer to realize some savings. Click here for contact and additional information for all BCCOP Certification Agencies. For information on the certification process refer to COABC's certification page for additional information.
How to Apply
COABC accepts applications for accreditation from certification bodies based in British Columbia. Potential applicants should contact the COABC office for more information. Detailed information regarding the process is found in Annex 1 and Annex 2 of Book 1 (see below) .
COABC Accreditation Board
The COABC Accreditation Board, operating independently from the COABC Board, oversees both regional and iso accreditation.
BCCOP Producer Member-Molly Thurston
Processor/Handler/Distributor Member-Cindy Hartford
Consumer/Environmental Member-Renee Prasad
Certification & Inspection Member-Rochelle Eisen, Anne Macey
Ex-officio (BC Ministry of Agriculture)-Navneet Gill
Accreditation Board Co-ordinator-Kristy Wipperman (contact for all accreditation questions)
Operation Policies and Procedures
Book 1 V10
Book 1 V9 Annex 1 Regional
Book 1 V10 Annex 2 ISO Part A
Book 1 V10 Annex 2 ISO Part B