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 USDA 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. View the USDA National Organic Complaint website.

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 you have evidence of the violation, e.g. a photo of a noncompliant label or records, be sure to send that with the Complaint Form.

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 complaints about non-CCOF certified operations within California: Alert the California State Organic Program by submitting a compliant to either CDFA or CDPH. If you are unsure which department to send your complaint to, user the CDFA Complaint Portal and they will make sure it goes to the right place.

For complaints about non-CCOF certified operations outside of California: Alert the USDA National Organic Program by submitting a complaint through the NOP Complaint Portal.

If your complaint is regarding potentially contaminated organic product, please read through our procedures for reporting contaminated product.

If your complaint is regarding a farmers’ market issue in California, contact both the local agricultural commissioner and submit a complaint using the CDFA Complaint portal.


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, follow the instructions on their website.

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.

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