Posted on September 11, 2018 by Sustainable Food News

USDA warns industry of 6 fake organic certificates

N.Y. organic produce co. caught up in fake organic certificate scheme

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is warning the organic trade of six new, fraudulent organic certificates circulating in the marketplace.

One of the fake organic certificates lists a company called NTP Nuts and Grains, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and allegedly certified for refined sunflower oil by certification agency NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC on Jan. 24, 2018.

The fake certificate lists the company’s operators as “Matthew Goldfarb & Petra Page Mann.” However, the NOP said in regard to the fake organic certificate: “At the time of this posting, Matthew Goldfarb and Petra Page-Mann are operators of Fruition Seeds LLC, certified organic by NOFA-NY. Fruition Seeds LLC is an operation in good standing.”

The federal agency has reported 109 fraudulent organic certificates since it began disclosing the records in 2011, 30 of which were reported in the past 12 months.

The NOP said the certificates falsely represent food and ag products as being “certified organic,” violating the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which can result in a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation.

The other five fake organic certificates include:

  • Global Organic Crop – Guyana, allegedly certified for organic sugar by Quality Certification Services on March 9, 2013
  • Daara Tuba Trade Pty Ltd. – Yaounde, Cameroon, allegedly certified by Quality Certification Services on April 10, 2017
  • Indian Herbs Extractions – Nainital, India, allegedly certified for production/handling on Aug. 28, 2014, by QMS Certification.
  • Michael Floren – Krakow, Poland, allegedly a manufacturer and distributor of organic green cardomom [sic] seed on Sept. 20, 2011, by Pacific Agricultural Certification Society (PACS). The NOP said PACS is accredited by the Canadian Organic Regime not the NOP.
  • Unnamed Business (Producer ID #16092 as shown on the certificate) – Altoona, Fla., allegedly certified as a handler (repack) on Nov. 21, 2016, by Baystate Organic Certifiers

The NOP last reported fake organic certificates in April, when it posted 11 of them, including one that shows the same NOP ID number as a global organic ingredients supplier owned by SunOpta Inc.

Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V., based in Amsterdam, is a subsidiary of Toronto-based SunOpta. The fake organic certificate listed a company called Buywise Wholesale Ltd. in Glasgow, Scotland as being allegedly certified organic by USDA-accredited certification agency Control Union Certifications B.V. (CUC), based in The Netherlands.

CUC also certifies Tradin Organic and has confirmed that the organic certificate for Buywise, which shows the same NOP ID as Tradin Organic, is fraudulent.

The 10 other fake organic certificates list the following businesses and certification agencies:

In December, the NOP reported two fraudulent organic certificates including:

  • Cloud Vaping Industries, Scottsdale, Ariz., allegedly certified for “processed products” by Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) International in Lincoln, Neb., in February 2013
  • Viet Nam Agricultural Biotechnology Joint Stock Company in Dac Lak Province, Vietnam, allegedly certified for “Crop-Plant, Handling-Processing” by Netherlands-based Control Union Certifications in October.

The NOP said OCIA “does not certify Cloud Vape Industries” as a certified-organic operation and is “not responsible for the fraudulent use of this certificate.” The agency also said Control Union has confirmed it is not associated with the certificate for Viet Name Agricultural Biotechnology.

In November, the NOP reported seven fraudulent organic certificates including:

In September 2017, the NOP reported the following three fraudulent organic certificates:

  • Sun Corp. dba Anima Mundi Herbals – The NOP said SunFood Corp. is certified by CCOF and is an operation in good standing, and “is not responsible for the alteration of this certificate.” The alleged address and organic certificate issue date are Long Island City, N.Y., and Dec. 12, 2006.
  • Pacific Botanicals, LLC dba Anima Mundi Herbals – The NOP said Pacific Botanicals is certified by Oregon Tilth and is an operation in good standing, and “is not responsible for the alteration of this certificate.” The alleged address and organic certificate issue date are Long Island City, N.Y., and April 1, 2017.
  • Ndudike Import & Export – Canada – The certificate says, “Manufacture, Processing, Packaging and Exportation of Kabuli Chickpeas.” The alleged organic certificate issue date is Feb. 12, 2016. The alleged accredited certifying agent and location is ARS Probata in Germany.

Earlier in September, the NOP reported a fraudulent organic certificate listing a company called Eskinler Insaat Gida San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti, based in Gaziemir, Izmir, Turkey. The products listed on the fake certificate include grape, plum, apricot, cherry orchards in Uzbekistan.

In August 2017, the USDA reported a fraudulent organic certificate listing a company called Siripak Trading, based in Thailand.

In July 2017, the NOP reported 11 fake organic certificates:

  • MySpiceSage – Yonkers, N.Y.
  • Aphrodite Group – Thailand
  • Hambsch Family Vineyard, LLC – North Garden, Va. – NOP said Hambsch Family Vineyard is an operation in good standing, certified by Quality Certification Services (QCS), and “is not responsible for the altercation of this certificate.”
  • Gulda Afro Group Sanayi Ticaret Wix – Mersin, Turkey – The fake certificate fraudulently claims the company sells 100% organic agricultural products including corn, onions, apples and ginger.
  • Wayne Food Co Ltd. – Juneau, Alaska
  • Dong Duong Export Company Ltd. – Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Pichuberry LLC – Phoenix, Ariz. – NOP said Andes Export Company, which is listed on the fake certificate, is an operation in good standing, certified by CERES, and is not responsible for the certificate’s alteration.
  • Shad Enterprises – Karachi, Pakistan
  • Campo Agricola Agua Azul – Jalisco, Mexico – NOP said Campo Agricola, a blueberry supplier, had surrendered its organic certification in December.
  • BioOrganic CIA Ltda. – Pichincha, Ecuador – NOP said BioOrganic CIA in Quito, Ecuador is an operation in good standing and certified by CERES, but that BioOrganic CIA Bracamoros is a revoked operation.
  • Societe Aparma Sarl – Yaounde, Cameroon – NOP said Societe Aparma Sarl is not a certified-organic operation.

In June 2017, the NOP reported six fraudulent organic certificates:

  • Morgan Cosmetics LLC – Newark, Del.
    • Scope of Certification: Handler-Processor: 100% Organic Moroccan Argan Oil
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: A Bee Organic; De Luz, Calif. Current Certificate Issue Date: April 1, 2016
      (Note: A Bee Organic has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).
  • Biofir S.A De C.V – Veracruz, Mexico
    • Scope of Certification: Crops: Tamarind, Pawpaw, Chili, Cob, Watermelon, Earthworm humus
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: Organic Certifiers, Ventura, Calif. Current Certificate Issue Date: April 17, 2015
      (Note: OC has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).
  • Agrobioos – Tierra Blanca, Mexico
    • Scope of Certification: Crops: Lemon, Coconut, Cob, Hens egg, Vermicompost
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: Organic Certifiers, Ventura, Calif. Current Certificate Issue Date: April 20, 2015
      (Note: OC has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).
  • Qingdao Devotion Chemical Co., Ltd. – Qingdao, China
    • Scope of Certification: Handling: Sandalwood Essential Oil
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: CERES GmbH, Happurg; Germany. Current Certificate Issue Date: May 8, 2014
      (Note: CERES has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).
  • Cooper Venture Associates – Louisville, Colo.
    • Scope of Certification: Handler: Sencha 8907 – Tea
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent: Quality Assurance International, San Diego, Calif. Current Certificate Issue Date: March 29, 2009
      (Note: QAI has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).
  • Lala Jagdish Prasad & Co. – Kannauj, India
    • Scope of Certification: Organic Production Methods.
      USDA Accredited Certifying Agent and Location: Control Union Certifications, Zwolle, The Netherlands. Current Certificate Issue Date: November 7, 2014
      (Note: Control Union Certifications has confirmed that the certificate is fraudulent and is NOT responsible for its production).

In May 2017, the NOP reported eight fraudulent organic certificates:

In April 2017, the NOP reported seven fraudulent organic certificates:

Check out the list of fake organic certificates here.

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