Posted on July 16, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

NOP audit stings organic certifier

Germany-based Kiwa BCS waives appeal, inks settlement with USDA

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) said Wednesday that organic certification agency, Kiwa BCS Oko-Garantie GmbH, has agreed to settle various noncompliances generated from its 2019 mid-term audit.

The settlement agreement comes after Germany-based Kiwa BCS, which has certified more than 2,700 operations as organic, withdrew its appeal and waived any further appeal rights arising from last year’s audit, then agreed to submit corrective actions in response to noncompliances.

The NOP said settlements resolve noncompliance issues with federal organic standards, and are typically “executed as alternatives to administrative proceedings that may result in suspension or revocation of certification or accreditation, as well as civil penalties for the knowing sale of products in violation of the USDA organic regulations.”

Since 2018, the NOP has declined to make available an electronic PDF file of actual settlements as well as the amounts of civil penalties that organic certifiers and companies agree to pay.

Consistent with that new format, the NOP did not disclose the noncompliances generated by Kiwa’s 2019 audit, nor did it release the audit. However, the NOP did share a few details.

Specifically, Kiwa has agreed to “conduct audits of its NOP certification activities and provide quarterly staff training,” the NOP said.

In addition, the organic certifier also agreed “to undergo an onsite compliance audit and witness audit for each area of certifications; and document how they will fully comply with all NOP requests for information,” the USDA agency said.

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