How to Prepare for an Inspection (and shorten your inspection time)

How to Prepare for an Inspection (and shorten your inspection time)

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All Inspections:

1. Be prepared to visit every production site: At every inspection, all sites/areas/production units where organic product 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.

  • If you also have non-organic production: the inspector may need to inspect some of the non-organic units to ensure organic integrity is being maintained. Be prepared to show these areas to the inspector. An inspection of non-organic units is a requirement of organic certification, if deemed necessary.

2. Have all of your records/paperwork organised 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 in a that is easy for you to access and also easy for the VO to review and verify. You will need all relevant records in the following categories:

  • Purchase records: Invoices/proof of purchase for everything that has been purchased for use on your operation, including: seeds, transplants, mulch, ingredients, processing aids, equipment, lumber and other applicable inputs
  • Production Records: detailed records that include dates, amounts, locations, and activities performed for all aspects of your organic production.  This may include having a record of the seeding, transplanting, harvesting dates of your crop(s), production records, logs, packaging records, organic product profile sheets, inventory records, etc.
  • Sales records: detailed records that include dates, volume, lot numbers and other applicable information for all organic sales and dispersal.  This may include invoices, sales books and complaint logs.  This also includes buffer crop volumes where applicable.
  • Certification/organic suitability documents: Organic ingredients must have organic certificate from the suppliers.  Non-organic ingredients must have a declaration and/or specification that verified its components.  Inputs must have organic approval records on file and where applicable, must have proof of organic status of such items.  In some cases where non-organic inputs were approved and used, a documented availability search must also be on hand.
  • Operation site records and diagrams: This may include all maps, site diagrams, barn/pen diagrams, flow charts, maps of pest control…
  • Labels and label approvals
  • Water source and test(s)
  • Complaint Log
  • Official documentation of Total Gross Organic sales for the previous year (calendar or fiscal)

3. Specific inspection details based on scope of certification:


  • Crop rotation & soil improvement plans
  • Disease and pest management plans
  • Input records – 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.  


  • 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, be traced back to a birth or purchase record.

  • For Ruminants: Feed Ration Audit

For Dairy: Milking records, to show withdrawal of treated animals  


  • Every effort will be made to ensure there is an organic production run in progress during the inspection.
  • Product list, plant diagram, flow chart, 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 will be traced back to the production record, the OPP, the ingredient purchase(s). This exercise will verify all ingredients, certificates, OPPs, lables, and corresponding purchase records form this product as declared. 

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 at least one mass balance audit be done per enterprise. This exercise will verify that you are selling the amount produced and no more.