ACA Update on Novel Coronavirus COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 15, 2020

 

As the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to create inspection restrictions which may have an impact on organic certification, the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA) and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) are collaborating to develop an industry-wide pandemic contingency plan.

Our foremost concern is the health and safety of our staff, inspectors, individuals at the operations we certify and their families. We are also mindful that consumers seeking organic foods need to trust the integrity of the organic label. Fortunately, there are many tools that we can use to verify organic compliance while travel restrictions are in place. We continue our work on an industry-wide pandemic contingency plan, but offer the following immediate best practices:

We recommend that accredited certifiers communicate regularly with their clients. Share directly that work is being done to create a contingency plan for inspections, and encourage your clients to remain inspection-ready.
All certifiers, inspectors, and operations must abide by any state, local, or federal restrictions or regulations on travel or gathering.
Our industry-wide pandemic contingency plan will include regulatory justification, risk assessment tools, best practices for remote audits and for desk audits, and how best to support inspectors and ensure their expertise is well-utilized.
We recommend that certifiers, inspectors, and operations continue to remain inspection-ready and maintain good documentation of their procedures. This will be critical to continued organic integrity during this time, and when travel restrictions are lifted and on-site audits may be rescheduled.

We recognize this continues to be a challenging and unprecedented time with constantly changing conditions. We assure you certifiers and inspectors are actively working together to develop inspection policies to verify compliance, maintain consistency, and ensure the integrity of the organic supply chain while keeping everyone safe. Certified organic producers and operations in the process of applying for certification should reach out directly to their accredited certifier with any questions about the effects of COVID-19 on their organic certification process.

We hope you, your employees, and your families stay safe and healthy. The health and safety of our organic community remain at the center of all decision making.

We encourage everyone to monitor WHO and CDC resources for the most up-to-date announcements and information about the virus:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

 

About Accredited Certifiers Association, Inc.

The Accredited Certifiers Association, Inc. (ACA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization created to benefit the accredited organic certifier community and the organic industry. We envision a world in which the USDA Organic label is always trusted and valued. Our primary mission is to ensure consistent implementation of USDA Organic Regulations through collaboration and education of accredited certification agencies. Purposes include, developing uniform criteria for implementation of the USDA National Organic Program, certifier training, support and networking opportunities and being a forum for discussion of issues impacting organic certification.