16 Mar National Organic Program: The Standard of Organic
When we started our family-owned business in 1925, organic simply meant plant or animal by-product. Not anymore. Today, the USDA’s National Organic Program publishes hundreds of pages with standards for organic products. And we work hard every day to make sure we meet those national standards — not only in our soils and fertilizers, but in our manufacturing and business practices.
Certified and Verified
We don’t believe you should have to just “trust us” that our products meet stringent National Organic Program (NOP) standards. Our compliance with national standards is verified by two reputable outside agencies with rigorous review processes. One is the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), the leading non-profit, internationally recognized third party accredited by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). OMRI’s job is to verify:
- The validity of organic claims of ingredients and labels
- The compliance of the manufacturing process
- Whether standards of public health and safety have been met
Look on any of our Soil or Fertilizer products, and you’ll find the OMRI logo indicating that we meet National Organic Program standards on all of these points.
So how did we do it?
It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. To meet the National Organic Program’s rigorous standards for organic products, we’ve adopted exceptionally high standards for ourselves and our vendors — higher than most in our industry. To give you an idea what goes into National Organic Program certification, we’re sharing a few of the exacting processes we’ve put into place.
Verifying our ingredients and processes.
- For every ingredient we add to our products, we verify the original manufacturer and source, as well as any other entities that may have come into contact with that ingredient. We also meticulously track how much of each ingredient we received from each supplier.
- We provide a list of every ingredient that makes up our product, down to the tiniest fraction of a percent. This ensures that our organic accreditors can properly analyze our products for organic compliance. It also helps us monitor our own practices and make sure that no unwanted synthetic ingredient creeps in to our products.
- We also explain how each ingredient is produced, where the raw material for that ingredient came from, how it was obtained, how it’s processed, what other materials are used to process it, and how contamination is avoided during that process. For example, many of our products list bat guano as an ingredient. We provide documentation about the location of the cave where the guano was collected, how it’s collected and transported, and even whether the pallets used in transportation are treated with pesticides (they’re not—the shippers bake the empty pallets at high temperatures to ensure that no pests come along for the ride).
- A third-party, accredited lab then analyzes our ingredients to ensure they are safe for use around people, pets and the environment.
- For our compost products, we collect and log a wealth of data that demonstrates we are complying with proper composting methods. This includes time, temperature and turning of the material.
- We then take all this information verifying our ingredients and processes, and submit it to OMRI and the California Department of Food and Agriculture for review. The agencies evaluate our data, along with our product labels, to ensure our ingredients, processes and products comply with national organic standards for labeling. Confirming that our products are what we say they are.
Improving Our Processes
- Occasionally, the agencies reviewing our products will come back to us with improvements or corrections that need to be made to fully comply with standards.
- Let’s imagine that as we are collecting data to submit a new ingredient supplier to our organic accreditors we discover that the supplier’s process could be improved by heating that ingredient to a specific temperature (essentially pasteurizing the ingredient). We now have the opportunity to work with that vendor to improve their process so that we can add their ingredient to our products without any restrictions from OMRI or OIM. The organic certification process gives us the tools to produce a better quality product that you can confidently use in your garden.
- Once we make the correction or improvement, we re-submit the information to the review agencies and go through the evaluation process again. We continue to do this until every last ingredient, process and label meets national standards and is officially approved by the agencies.
So if you’re shopping at your local nursery or home center, just look for the Kellogg or G&B Organics logos. You’ll know that you don’t have to take our word for it that what you’re buying is actually organic. It’s proven organic.