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Required PDF File Certificates for Certified Organic Operations

by Sarah Reed |

Operations must have systems to verify that suppliers and products received are certified organic. All USDA National Organic Program certified operations have a current certificate PDF file in the Organic Integrity Database (OID) as well as an OID Operation Profile PDF file listing acreage, crops, products, etc. CCOF and many other certifiers will also create their own addenda (not available in OID) that include more information than the OID Operation Profile.

To verify suppliers and products, operations may maintain PDF files or printed copies of organic certificates and addenda and/or regularly verify data in the OID or other publicly available websites, such as EU or certifier websites. Maintaining PDF files or printed copies is a best practice even if you also verify status in OID. What is considered sufficient for supplier verification depends on multiple factors:

  • Certifier-generated addenda are required to verify brands. Reviewing OID alone is not sufficient; you must maintain the PDF file of that supplier’s addendum, unless the certifier has a publicly available website listing complete information (which is unlikely due to confidentiality concerns).
    • For example, if you are a private-label brand owner working with a co-packer, you must verify that your branded products are listed on that co-packer’s addendum.
  • If you export, certifier-generated addenda are required to verify international compliance of your suppliers. Reviewing OID is not sufficient; you must maintain PDF files of your suppliers’ addenda, unless there is a publicly available website listing complete information.
    • For example, if you are exporting organic products to the EU, you must verify that ingredients you purchase are compliant with the U.S.–EU Equivalency.
  • If you source from suppliers certified to standards other than National Organic Program (suppliers outside the United States) you must maintain PDF copies of certificates and addenda, unless there is a publicly available website listing complete information.
  • If OID or another publicly available website contains sufficient information to verify supplier and product compliance, you can rely solely on OID instead of maintaining PDF copies of certifications/addenda, though maintaining PDF copies is a best practice. CCOF inspectors will verify your suppliers in OID during inspection, and operations lacking robust supplier verification systems may be required to maintain PDF copies of certificates.
    • Always verify that your supplier is currently certified for the product you are sourcing before purchasing. Historical information is available in OID if needed. Also, historical certificates are maintained by each certifier and can be requested if historical OID information is insufficient.