International Organic Logos

By Dr. Daria Love

Canada has become the sixth largest organic consumer market in the world.  While Karma’s shelves reflect our policy to buy Canadian and local, not all foods can be produced domestically or have year-round availability.  Recognizing and understanding international organic logos and their regulation is important for the discerning shopper.

To date, Canada has established ‘equivalency arrangements’ with the United States, European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Costa Rica for organic standards.  These arrangements  create reciprocity that deems these foreign countries policies and processes for organic standards to be equivalent to Canadian standards.

What about organic products from other countries such as China?  By agreement through the US-Canada Equivalency Arrangement such products can be certified by the Canada Organic Regime (COR) or the US National Organic Program (NOP) as meeting Canadian standards. These products may then carry Canadian or US organic logos and labelling.  COR is part of the Canadian Organic Office (COO) that is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). 

Cha’s Organic Coconut Milk is an example of a product produced in Sri Lanka, that carries the Canadian organic logo:

Cha’s organic coconut milk and the Canadian organic logo.

Silver Leaf olive oil from Greece is an example of organic logo from the EU:

Silver Leaf oil and an organic logo from the EU.

Karma carries a number of products both fresh and packaged that are produced internationally, and all follow these standards and show similar labelling.  The following link provides a gallery of the vast numbers of international logos that while they do not appear on product labels here, they show that there is a significant and growing worldwide focus on organic food production.

Importantly, Canada does not have equivalency arrangements with any country for aquaculture products (fish and any by-products, raised in controlled or managed environments).  As of January 15, 2021, organic aquaculture products from any country other than Canada must have met Canadian organic standards through independent arrangement with suppliers that do meet the organic standards.

Seaweed products do however come under Canadian-US equivalency standards, and as above, independent arrangements can also be made to bring such products from other countries to Canada.

It is also interesting to note, that North American organic standards may not meet the stringent organic requirements of other countries.  Trace amounts of pesticides, such as glyphosates found in GMO products used in conventional farming practices in North America, can, through air pollution and other possible means, contaminate Canadian (and US) organic products and make them unacceptable for export to international markets such as the European Union.