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USDA Bans Organic Inspector From Inspecting Chinese Food Imports

The USDA found that the Organic Crop Improvement Association was using employees of the Chinese government to inspect Chinese state-run farms.

Organic Earl Grey tea

Photo: maya the bee (via flickr)

Some organic foods commonly imported from China are frozen vegetables, pine nuts, tea and sunflower seeds.

The United States Department of Argiculture (USDA) banned one of the country’s leading organizations responsible for the organic certification of foods imported from China.

The USDA found that the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA – website), based in Nebraska, was using employees of the Chinese government to inspect Chinese state-run farms.

Such practices were deemed to be a conflict of interest, which is particularly worrisome to American food inspectors given China’s problems with food safety in recent years.

According to the New York Times, Zhou Zejiang, a senior adviser to the American group’s Chinese partner, said the USDA could have avoided a ban and resolved the conflict by requiring the OCIA to use independent inspectors to visit farms run by the Chinese government.

While the OCIA is banned from China, the organization has retained its accreditation for certification activities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Read More:

  • U.S. Drops Inspector of Food in China (New York Times)
  • National Organic Program Settles With Certifier in China Enforcement Ends Conflict of Interest on Inspections, Bans OCIA in China (USDA.gov)
Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer was in the company of foodies for most of her formative years. She spent all of her teens working at her town's natural food co-op in South Dakota, and later when she moved to Minneapolis, worked as a produce maven for the nation's longest running collectively-managed food co-op. In 2006, she had the distinct pleasure (and pain) of participating the vendanges, or grape harvest, in the Beaujolais terroire of France, where she developed her compulsion to snip off grape clusters wherever they may hang. In the spring of 2008, Megan interned on NPR's Science Desk in Washington, D.C., where she aided in the coverage of science, health and food policy stories. She joined Indiana Public Media in June, 2009.

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