IFOAM Accreditation is primarily a means of ensuring fair and orderly trade of organic products. It is in this sense a service for the trade and producers as well as for certifiers. IFOAM Accreditation facilitates equivalency of organic certification bodies worldwide by confirming whether they meet IFOAM's international norms.
The IFOAM Accreditation Program is now opened to other Accreditation Bodies in addition to the IOAS. For more information, see here.
A list of certification bodies currently accredited under one of the IFOAM Accreditation Programs can be found here.
How it started
The IFOAM Accreditation Program was launched in 1992. It has been operating on the basis of the IFOAM Norms, composed, up to 2011, of the IFOAM Basic Standards (IBS), and the IFOAM Accreditation Criteria (IAC). IFOAM accreditation was awarded to certification bodies that complied with the IAC and that used certification standards that met the IBS. In the 2012 edition of the IFOAM Norms, the IAC have been renamed “IFOAM Accreditation Requirements” (IAR) and the IBS has been replaced by the IFOAM Standard and the IFOAM Standards Requirements (COROS).
Starting 2015, the concept of IFOAM Accreditation has been revised. IFOAM Accreditation now includes what was previously known as the "IFOAM Global Organic System Accreditation (IGOSA)". Indeed, both systems have been consolidated into one single program named IFOAM Accreditation, which now allows two options:
- General option: Certification bodies can use any private standard or regulation approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards. The scope of their IFOAM Accreditation can therefore include all programs based on organic standards approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards. For all the programs included in the scope, the certification body must operate in compliance with the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements. IFOAM Accredited Certification bodies may use the IFOAM Accreditation Seal according to the terms of IFOAM Accreditation Program.
- Additional option: Certification bodies can choose to still operate a private standard that is compliant with the IFOAM Standard, in the scope of their IFOAM Accreditation. Such standard will automatically be approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards based on its compliance with the IFOAM Standard which is itself in the Family. Certification bodies that choose this additional option can make an additional claim: that their private standard is compliant with the IFOAM Standard, including an option to use an "IFOAM-Standard" version of the IFOAM Accreditation Seal.
The IFOAM Accreditation is therefore now based on the following concepts:
- Equivalence, when it comes to the standard (production rules). This is achieved through the reference to the IFOAM Family of Standards, and an audit by IOAS that verifies the correct application of those standards.
- Compliance, when it comes to the accreditation requirements (rules for how the CB should operate). This is achieved through an audit by IOAS that verifies full compliance of the certification body with the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements.
The only international accreditation program
IFOAM Accreditation is the only fully international accreditation program for certification bodies active in organic agriculture. The accreditation is carried out by the IOAS under an Agreement with IFOAM. Since February 2015, IFOAM has opened the possibility for Accreditation Bodies other than the IOAS to offer IFOAM Accreditation. Accreditation bodies wishing to offer this service must sign a contract with IFOAM. For more information, please click here.
IFOAM advocates for recognition of its accreditation program by governments. Recommendations on how governments can regulate the import of organic products based on the concept of equivalence, using the IFOAM accreditation program, is explained under the IFOAM Policy Brief on Imports.