Certification is an audit process designed to protect the integrity and traceability of the organic product.
SOPA contracts all of its certification activities to OF&G (Scotland) Ltd who maintain the SOPA scheme and ensure it meets legal compliance.
The process starts at the farm inspection. The records that must be shown at inspection are extensive, so good record-keeping is particularly important in all organic businesses. SOPA Members can download the inspection documents checklist & record sheets by logging into the Members Section.
For the inspection the Organic Inspectors carry out a thorough audit of all parts of the business; this can also include any non-organic parts of a business and joint audits if required.
Preparing for my organic inspection is actually good discipline. Organic records exceed the requirements for most food assurance and government schemes that I am part of, so I know that meeting the organic requirements means I will comply with everything else too.
Mr S. Smith, Alford
The inspection report then needs to be reviewed by the Certification staff in the office. Non-compliances are recorded and must be cleared as full adherence to the SOPA Organic Standards is necessary before a valid certificate will be issued.
To ensure that the SOPA Certification system is functioning correctly, DEFRA contract UKAS to carry out independent annual supervisory inspections shadowing the organic Inspectors. Plus, UKAS also inspect the OF&G (Scotland) Ltd systems annually, to ensure that the audit process is correct, consistent and robust.
The Technical Advisory Committee for the SOPA Organic Producer Scheme
To ensure adherence to the EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 and 889/2008, OF&G (Scotland) Ltd operates an independent committee comprising industry experts to oversee the certification and audit process. The TAC meets regularly in a 'watchdog' capacity to ensure the organic certification meets the legal requirement.