Organic is a term used within food agriculture and production to refer to a certain set of environmentally- and animal-friendly standards and protocols followed during the process of bringing food products to market. In Canada, the Canadian Organic Standards were created by the Committee on Organic Agriculture and published by the Canadian General Standards Board to establish regulations around what may be labelled ‘organic’.
Canada’s organic standards are among the most recognized in the world. The standards lay out the specifics of organic production, including how livestock must be housed, fed, transported and slaughtered; how specific crops and produce are to be grown, extracted, processed and stored; how pests and diseases are to be treated; which substances, methods and ingredients may not be used; and what environmental factors must be taken into consideration.
The standards also place strict limits and prohibitions on the use of toxic and persistent pesticides; synthetic fertilizers; the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones; animal cloning; genetic engineering (“GMOs”); sewage sludge (“biosolids”); and irradiation. Organic standards also forbid the use of artificial food colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients in processed foods.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) enforces the Canada Organic Regime and the Organic Products Regulation, which is under federal law. You may see products that have been certified under the organic regulations of other countries or regions, like USDA Organic from the United States or EU Organic from the European Union. These products have also been produced following organic regulations and have met a set of established standards in order to be certified by the regulatory bodies in those regions.