A Call for Organic Regulation in Ontario
Regulation of the term 'organic' is an important feature of the Canada Organic Regime. It means that the word can only be used to describe products and businesses that are certified organic. Certified organic producers are audited by third-party certification bodies to ensure that use of the word is backed up by sound organic practices. Unfortunately, these rules do not apply to businesses who only operate within the province of Ontario.
In fact, as long as the product does not cross provincial borders, anyone can call their business or product organic without repercussion. And most consumers have no idea.
This is because the Canada Organic Regime is only enforced for products that A) carry the Canada Organic Logo, or B) are traded across Ontario’s borders.
OCO often receives questions from concerned citizens about misuse of the term ‘organic.’ In one example, a restaurant uses the term in its name, and to describe its dishes. However, the business is not obliged to provide proof that any of its ingredients are certified organic. Consumers can be misled, but there is no recourse against the use of the term.
Let your MPP know that you'd like organic regulation in Ontario.
Many terms used to describe foodstuffs are difficult to prove or regulate. This is not the case with organic.
The Government of Canada has regulated the term, as have five other provinces to date. Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have all introduced provincial regulation. British Columbia's regulation will be in place by 2018, and Alberta is also showing signs of moving toward provincial regulation.
The Organic Council of Ontario is committed to working with the Ontario government to ensure that provincial regulation of the Canadian Organic Standards becomes a reality. In order to support the exploration of this issue, we have prepared a detailed background, and a comparison of provincial regulations that have been developed to date.