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
OF&G Scotland maintain the SOPA scheme and ensure it meets legal compliance with DEFRA and EU.
The audit starts with a visit to the business premises. Business and organic records that must be shown at inspection are extensive, so good record-keeping is particularly important in all organic businesses. SOPA members can download audit record sheets by logging into the Members Section.
Qualified organic auditors 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.
The audit report then needs to be reviewed by the OF&G Scotland 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 certification system is functioning correctly, DEFRA contract UKAS to carry out independent annual supervisory inspections of 5% of our membership.
UKAS also inspect the OF&G Scotland systems annually, to ensure that the audit process is correct, consistent and robust.
The Technical Advisory Committee for the SOPA Processor Scheme
To ensure adherence to the EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 and 889/2008, OF&G Scotland operates an independent committee comprising industry experts to oversee the certification and audit process. The TAC meets regularly in a 'watchdog' capacity to ensure organic certification meets the legal requirement.