Organic foods continue to gain in popularity; this is why many food companies have found opportunities to develop or promote products that they can market as organic. Many believe that organic products are produced in facilities that are pesticide free, but as organic facility managers and the pest management industry knows, that is not necessarily the case. While organic products are free of pesticides, pesticide use in and around processing facilities have more flexible options than you may realize.

The National Organic Program (NOP) was established as a USDA marketing regulation in 2001. They govern what products are “100 percent organic”, “organic”, and “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))”. To help with this, the USDA created The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances that specifies the allowed and prohibited materials for organic crops, livestock production, and food production.

Facilities that produce organic products can use pesticides that are approved by the organic certifying organization. They need to implement a plan and approved protective measures to preserve the integrity of the organic products. An organic certifier only approves the use of a pesticide application when it is needed and based on documented pest activity. In addition, a step-wise approach that utilizes non-chemical methods first before utilizing an NOP listed activity ingredient must be in place. If either of those two steps fail to yield results, then additional consideration may be made for a conventional pesticide tool. Also, all pesticides must be part of your approved organic handling plan. For this, an organic certifier will review your plan and require that adequate protective measures are taken to prevent exposure of a pesticide to organic products, as well as agree to the pesticide that would be used.

IFC’s Team is highly experienced and knowledgeable with providing organic pest management program support services. We have been working closely with organically certified facilities for many years. Our Team can partner with you to establish an organic pest management program that is in accordance with the National Organic Program. This is a plan customized to your facility so that it meets with approval from your organic certifier’s requirements. If you have questions or are interested in scheduling an appointment to learn more, please request a free assessment now.