How to Prepare for an Efficient Inspection

How to Prepare for an Efficient Inspection



Organic certification is about verifying that you are managing an organic system to grow crops, raise livestock, and/or process food according to the Canadian Organic Standards.

  1. Review the sections of the Canadian Organic Standards relevant to your operation.
  2. Review your Organic Plan(s) prior to the visit.
  3. Review your previous year's Certification Review Report: If there are any Opportunities for Improvement listed, please be prepared to discuss them with the Verification Officer and have requested documentation available for review.
  4. Be prepared to visit every production site: At every inspection, all sites/areas/production units where organic products will be produced, packaged, or stored (unsealed/loose) must be inspected. Have a plan in advance for how you will ensure that the Verification Officer (VO) is able to inspect every site during the audit.
    1. If you also have non-organic production: the inspector may need to inspect some of the non-organic units to ensure organic integrity, etc. Be prepared to show these areas to the inspector. An inspection of non-organic units is a requirement of organic certification if deemed necessary.
  5. Have all of your records/paperwork organized and ready for inspection: records for the last calendar year, or past 12 months, are most important to have organized and available. This is best printed in a binder in chronological order, but also could be organized on a laptop computer if that is easier for you to access and also easy for the VO to review and verify. You will need all relevant records in the following categories:
    1. Purchase records: Invoices/proof of purchase for everything that has been purchased for use in your operation, including: seeds, transplants, inputs, mulch, ingredients, processing aids, equipment, lumber, etc.
    2. Production Records: detailed recording (including dates, amounts, locations, etc.) for all aspects of your organic production, including: seeding, transplanting, harvesting, production records, packaging records, organic product profile sheets, inventory records, etc.
    3. Sales records: detailed records (including dates, amounts, locations, etc.) for all organic sales and dispersal, including: invoices, sales books, complaint log
    4. Certification/organic suitability documents: Organic ingredients must have organic certificate, non-organic ingredients must have declarations/specification, inputs must have organic approval records, seeds must have proof of organic, or documented availability search, etc.
    5. Operation site records and diagrams: All maps, site diagrams, barn/pen diagrams, flow charts, maps of pest control…
    6. Labels and label approvals
    7. Water source and test(s)
    8. Complaint Log
    9. Official documentation of Total Gross Organic Sales (GOS) for the previous year (calendar or fiscal)


Crop Inspections

  • Crop rotation & soil Improvement plans
  • Disease and pest management plans
  • Input record – dates, rates, locations
  • Equipment clean out log
  • Traceability audit: an item picked off one of your invoices and traced back to the harvest date, the planting date and field location, seeding date and seed purchase.  This verifies that the produce that was sold came from your farm and that you have the records to track it.
  • Mass Balance audit: a crop is selected to determine the amount harvested.  This amount is compared with the amount sold.  Please have all harvest and sales information available.

Livestock Inspections:

  • Inventory of all animals onsite
  • Inventory of all health care products onsite.
  • Verifying size and stocking rate for all pens and pastures (indoor and outdoor).
  • Audit of health care records for the year.
  • Feed audit: All feed purchased and/or harvested for the year will be added up, and feed still in inventory subtracted to establish the average feed per animal/per day.
  • Traceability audit: One animal ID will be selected either onsite or from a sale/slaughter record, and be traced back to a birth or purchase record.
  • For Ruminants: Feed Ration Audit
  • For Dairy: Milking records, to show withdrawal of treated animals

Preparation Inspections:

  • Every effort will be made to ensure there is an organic production run in progress during the inspection.
  • Product list, plant diagram, flow chart, and OPPs will all be reviewed and verified at every inspection.
  • Sanitation: SOPs and all cleaners onsite will be verified.
  • Traceability code/mechanism will be verified.
  • Traceability audit: an item from an invoice or from inventory and traced back to the production record, the OPP and the ingredient purchase. This exercise will verify all ingredients, all certificates, all OPPs, all labels, and all purchase records from this product. 
  • Mass Balance:  The quantity of an ingredient in inventory plus the quantity purchased during a certain period less the amount used in production will be compared with the quantity in inventory. The same exercise will be done on the finished product made with that ingredient. The CFIA requires that one mass balance audit be done for every 10 ingredients purchased by the operation. This exercise will verify that you are selling the amount produced and no more.