The NOP Organic Insider, USDA National Organic Program

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AnnouncementNovember 9, 2012


Beginning January 1, 2013, organic certifying agents must test samples from at least 5 percent of the operations they certify on an annual basis.   

While testing has always been a part of organic product oversight and is required by the Organic Foods Production Act, today's action specifies the minimum amount of testing that must occur.  

This additional testing will help certifying agents identify and take enforcement action against farms and businesses intentionally using prohibited substances or methods. 

Integrity through Additional Residue Testing

Certifying agents may test USDA organic farms and processors across the United States and throughout the world for any prohibited substances and methods, including:

  • Prohibited pesticides - possible target list 
  • Arsenic or other contaminant metals
  • Genetic engineering - GMO policy 
  • Synthetic hormones
  • Antibiotics, except in organic apple and pear production per USDA organic regulations

This increased oversight will increase consumer confidence in organic products worldwide, supporting continued growth of the $32 billion organic industry in the United States.  

Final Rule: Periodic Residue Testing
Strengthens testing requirements in USDA organic regulations

Pilot Study: Pesticide Residue Testing  
Serves as a model for pesticide residue testing projects

Consumer Questions and Answers 

Residue Testing Resources for Certifiers

To help certifying agents comply with these requirements, the National Organic Program (NOP) has updated several resources within the NOP Handbook and is planning both in-person and online training sessions.   

Memo to Certifying Agents
Explains how each resource can help certifiers comply 

Program Handbook
Provides updated instructions and guidance to aid compliance:

  • NOP 2610: Sampling Procedures for Residue Testing (updated)

  • NOP 2611: Laboratory Selection Criteria for Pesticide Residue Testing (updated)

  • NOP 2611-1: Prohibited Pesticides for NOP Residue Testing (unchanged)

  • NOP 5028: Responding to Results from Pesticide Residue Testing (Draft Guidance, to be finalized late 2012)

We thank our certifying agents for their work to protect the integrity of organic products.

About the National Organic Program (NOP)

The NOP facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. Learn more.

About the NOP Organic Insider

The NOP Organic Insider informs the organic community on a wide range of NOP functions, including organic standards, accreditation and international activities, compliance and enforcement, the National Organic Standards Board, training events, and the Cost Share program.


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