Annual Organic Inspection - Passed!

USDA_seal_colorWe are a Certified Organic company.  What does that mean?  It means an independent third-party accredited firm, authorized by the USDA, visits us once a year (which was yesterday) to make sure we follow all the requirements needed to be "certified" Organic.  There is great ambiguity in the marketplace about the various terms - Natural, Organic, Non-GMO, Fair Trade, and I learned of a new one yesterday, Certified Humane.  Here's a very quick overview:
  • Natural - Beware of this label - it could mean just about anything, covers a wide plethora of items and has the least relevance.  Don't be fooled.
  • Organic -  If it is Certified Organic, it will always carry the USDA Organic seal and say 'Certified Organic'.  All our Organic teas on our site are Certified Organic.
  • Non-GMO - although there is a separate certification for this, you should know that if any item is Certified Organic, it is automatically non-GMO. GMO's are NOT allowed in Organic products. GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.
  • Fair Trade - Organic is focused on the soil and follows a specific method of agriculture. Fair Trade focuses on the people growing and manufacturing the item.  A portion of your purchase price goes back directly to the workers of that company making that product.  In our case, that would be to the workers of a particular tea estate.  We carry a very large selection of teas that are Certified Fair Trade.
  • Certified Humane - this is new and gradually becoming a requirement of reputed companies such as Whole Foods, and is focused on a more humane world for farm animals.
It was a long day yesterday and although we prepared for it in advance, in reality, systems must be in place all year long so that on the actual day of inspection, whatever is requested at random can be pulled instantly.  What gets inspected?  At the very least, the Inspector verifies that what you sell as Organic is actually Organic.  Original farm certificates, bills of lading and import documents are inspected to ensure that the audit trail indicates they are Organic.  Another main objective of an inspection is to insure that non-organic items are not passed off as Organic.  Amounts received are compared to amounts sold to make sure the count is accurate.  And finally, systems in place are checked to ensure that Organic standards laid down by the USDA National Organic Program are being adhered to.  These include essential procedures such as not cleaning with chemicals, segregating organic from non-organic material and, of course, labeling items accurately.  We want you to be assured that when we say we are supplying you Organic tea, you can be confident that it is exactly that.
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