Fresh produce, grains and other products can be vulnerable to fraud, being labeled and sold as organic when they are not.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Agriculture on Thursday released new requirements for products labeled organic, this is a move aimed at combating fraud and strengthening controls.

The rule strengthens compliance with strict USDA requirements definition of organwhich should rely on “natural substances and physical, mechanical or biological farming methods to the greatest extent possible”.

The rule requires USDA National Organic Program certification for all imported organic food, expands certification to more businesses in the supply chain, and expands authority for inspections, recordkeeping, tracking, and fraud prevention.

The Organic Trade Association, which lobbied for the rule, said it was the biggest change to organic rules since the creation of the USDA’s Organic Food Program.

OTA officials said in a statement that the regulation “will do much to deter and detect organic fraud and protect organic integrity throughout the supply chain.”

According to OTA, organic food sales in the U.S. are expected to exceed $63 billion in 2021, and consumers are willing to pay more for products that are free of pesticides and other pollutants.

Fresh produce, grains and other products are vulnerable to fraud. This month, Justice Department officials issued indictments in a multimillion-dollar scheme to export non-organic grain to the United States to be sold as certified organic.

The new rule takes effect in March, and companies will have a year to comply.

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