From the food cattle eat to the facilities in which beef is processed, achieving Certified Organic status involves following strict protocols. In this post, we’ll take a look at regulations for processing facilities.

“Certified Organic,” in a Nutshell

As a recap, a Certified Organic product is one that’s approved by the USDA and bears the USDA Organic logo. For beef products, it means cattle are fed GMO-free feed and forage and are never given antibiotics or added hormones.

While much of the responsibility for meeting Certified Organic regulations falls on the livestock producer, beef must also be processed in facilities that comply with USDA Certified Organic regulations.

When and why do processors need to be certified?

The organic certification program is meant to maintain the integrity of organic food. An organic handling certificate is required for processing or packaging livestock products, such as beef, to be sold in retail. Processing includes slaughtering, cutting, grinding, or freezing. An Organic System Plan (OSP) covers all areas of the organic integrity of a product, and companies must submit an OSP to apply for Organic Certification.

Certified Organic Beef Processing

Organic beef processing facilities must obtain a certification as an Organic Processor and be inspected annually by a third-party certifying agent to ensure adherence to USDA standards. To obtain certification, just like organic producers, facilities must go through the following process1:

  • Submit an application to a certifying agency. A certifying agency is a USDA-accredited organization responsible for ensuring all USDA organic products consistently meet the appropriate standards. As part of the application, the processing facility must provide several pieces of documentation:
    • Application
    • Organic System Plan (OSP), a description of how the facility is setup to handle organic products
  • An agent reviews the application materials. The agent will determine whether practices are described in sufficient detail, and if practices and the product appear to comply, the agent will contact an inspector to visit the facility.

The inspector visits the processing facility. The inspector will look for any violations of USDA Organic regulations, assess whether the application accurately describes the operation, and review records, other organic certificates, and various documents.

  • The certifying agency reviews the inspection report and, if the facility is compliant, issues certification.

As you can see, there are a number of criteria at every point in the production of Certified Organic beef that need to be met to achieve the certification. Learn more about the criteria at the USDA’s website.

The Benefits of Going Organic

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what goes into a Certified Organic program, so why should you choose thinkpure Certified Organic Beef?

We’re proud of meeting and exceeding the rigorous standards required for organic certification and beef production. Our beef products are part of a system that encourages the cycling of resources, promotes ecological balance, and conserves biodiversity. Our cattle also live a life with ample room to graze on pasture.

And, what’s more, thinkpure Certified Organic and natural beef products are an excellent source of protein, iron, and several other essential nutrients that every person needs for a healthy lifestyle.

Check out the where to buy page to find thinkpure Certified Organic and natural beef near you.

1Guide for Organic Processors,” Pamela Coleman, NCAT, November 2012.