How do I address organic complaints and problems in the marketplace?

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CCOF wants to help you address marketplace problems and complaints. Under the National Organic Program, all products marketed as organic must be certified. If you witness organic products being mislabeled or fraudulently identified, you are highly encouraged to report the problem. Reporting is the best way to stop fraudulent practices.

The Short Answer

If the complaint involves a CCOF certified company, you are encouraged to provide a completed CCOF Complaint Form and submit it directly to us.

If the issue involves a CCOF certified dairy operation, particularly regarding pasture access issues, you are encouraged to contact CCOF and provide a completed CCOF Dairy Complaint Form.

For other complaints within California: Both the California State Organic Program and the National Organic Program should be contacted as they can levy fines and embargo products.

If your complaint is regarding a farmers’ market issue in California, you are advised to contact the local agricultural commissioner and State Organic Program in writing. CCOF recommends addressing both parties in the complaint and providing a copy to both of them.

  • Complaint forms: You can obtain a complaint form from the CDFA or by contacting CCOF. The complaint form can be completed and submitted to CDFA via the address on the form, or it can be completed and returned to any county agricultural commissioner’s office.

 

The Long Answer

Who can file a complaint?
Any person may file a complaint if he or she believes a violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 or its implementing regulations (NOP) has occurred or is about to occur.

How are complaints filed?
You may file a complaint with the National Organic Program (NOP), State Organic Program (SOP), or a certifying agent. Should you choose to file a complaint with the NOP, you may do so in writing or by telephone, fax, or email as follows:

Mailing Address:
NOP Compliance Agricultural Marketing Service United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Mail Stop 0203 - Room 302-Annex Washington, D.C. 20250

What information is needed?
When you report a suspected violation, be prepared to provide as much detailed information as possible (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?). Please include documentation when available. Complete and accurate information helps ensure that the issue can be successfully reviewed or investigated. Additionally, please provide your name and contact information if you are willing to discuss the issue further with an NOP compliance staff member as needed.

How does NOP Compliance respond to complaints?
The USDA will review all complaints that it receives in accordance with its procedures for reviewing and investigating alleged violations of the NOP. The USDA will, as appropriate, refer complaints alleging violations of the NOP/SOP to the applicable SOP governing state official, who may, in turn, refer the complaint to the applicable certifying agent. In states without an approved SOP, the USDA will refer complaints to the applicable certifying agent. The USDA will, as appropriate, investigate allegations of violations of the Organic Foods Production Act by noncertified operations operating in states where there is no approved SOP.

How are complaints handled in states with an approved State Organic Program?
States with an approved State Organic Program provide the same protections to consumers as the NOP, although they may follow slightly different complaint processing procedures.