Organic Food Certification

  • Overview
  • Benefits of Certification
  • Why Work with NSF/QAI?
  • Certification Process

QAI, part of the NSF International family of companies, offers organic certification services to certify every step of the organic food production chain. We provide certification services for farms, distributors, manufacturers, traders, retailers and restaurants.

The QAI website provides more information.

Benefits of Certification

Independent, third-party certification of organic food systems is the foundation of domestic and international organic food trade. Our job at QAI is to verify that organic integrity is maintained.

The QAI certification program is designed to certify every step of the organic chain —from the land on which the product is grown, to the producers growing the product, to the post-harvest facilities preparing the product, to the processing and handling facilities transforming the product. QAI certifies at the following levels:

  • Land
  • Post harvest
  • Distributors
  • Private label
  • Producers
  • Processors
  • Restaurants
  • Retailers

Why Work with NSF/QAI?

When you choose NSF/QAI, you benefit from a widely-recognized and trusted organic seal. Our team of experienced and highly trained staff and inspectors remains current with all decisions and rule changes, and provides regular organic industry updates.

We are customer-focused and driven, providing swift, efficient service and cost-effective, fixed fees. By being part of the NSF International family, we can also bundle your food safety certification to maximize your cost efficiencies and minimize interference to your operation.

Certification Process

Your QAI project manager guides you through the organic certification process, which involves five basic steps, whether you produce items at the beginning, middle or the end of the supply chain.

Step 1: Application — We ask you to provide details about your organic operation that enable us to understand the scope of your operation, the procedures you follow and the products that your company processes, labels, handles and/or trades.

Step 2: Inspection — An experienced inspector conducts an on-site evaluation of your operation to verify the information on your application and assembled documentation. (An annual inspection is required to remain certified.)

Step 3: Technical Review — A technical reviewer examines all documentation associated with your operation to ensure it complies with all necessary organic regulations.

Step 4: Resolution and Notification — You have an opportunity to resolve any items during the inspection and technical review that may be unclear or don’t comply with the regulations.

Step 5: Certification and Ongoing Compliance — Once you’ve successfully completed the process, you are certified to the applicable standard. You receive a numbered certificate and can use the QAI Organically Certified mark of excellence on your compliant organic products.

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  • Open How long does the certification process take?

    Generally, the process takes about eight to 10 weeks from receipt of payment and all data required for review. We also offer various levels of rush services.

  • Open How much does it cost to be certified?

    The fee for QAI’s organic certification depends on various factors (e.g., size of operation, location, etc.). A fee schedule is provided with the QAI application for organic certification.

  • Open Who sets the regulations that govern Quality Assurance International (QAI) as an accredited organization of the United States Department of Agriculture?

    QAI certifies to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. While QAI does not develop the regulations, QAI is actively involved in the industry working groups and the National Organic Standards Board to help ensure long-term consumer trust in organics.

    QAI strictly follows regulations established by the NOP, the federal regulation that ensures all USDA requirements are met. As part of its accreditation, QAI updates programs and policies as needed to ensure ongoing compliance with NOP regulations. The NOP website provides more information on the role of accredited organizations.

    Just as consumers in the United States rely on the NOP and its accredited certifiers to ensure that all organic-labeled food destined to enter the U.S. meets U.S. organic production and labeling laws, other countries and regions (including Japan, Canada and the European Union) have similar governance. For more detailed information on global organic regulations, visit the QAI website.


  • Open What does "certified organic" mean?

    In the United States, “certified organic” means that a nonprofit, state or private certification organization, such as QAI, which has been accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has verified that products labeled as “organic” meet strictly defined organic standards.

    Similarly, in some global markets, “certified organic” means that a certification organization, such as QAI, has been approved by an accreditation body to certify products in the respective international markets.


  • Open What is organic?

    In the United States, organic is defined as a production system managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act and the National Organic Program to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.

    Source: USDA - National Organic Program 2001

    Other countries and regions, including Japan, Canada and the European Union, have their own federal regulations covering the production and labeling of organic foods.

    For more information about international regulations for organics, visit the QAI website.


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