Although there’s no evidence that certain extracts falsely labeled as organic were sold in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture is nonetheless warning organic distributors and processors to be aware of a fraudulent organic certificate being circulated by an uncertified operation in China.

The certificate falsely represents hibiscus, jasmine and beet root extract powders as being organic under National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, the USDA said in a news release Wednesday.

That constitutes a violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the regulator said. Any use of the organic certificate or other fraudulent documents to market, label, or sell non-organic agricultural products as organic may result in a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation.

The NOP said it was alerted to the fraud by the accredited organic certifier whose name is falsely attributed as the issuer.

“It’s important the organic industry is aware of these sorts of attempts to deceive the organic system,” said Ruihong Guo, associate deputy administrator of the National Organic Program. “We’re continuing to remain vigilant to these attempts so organic standards are protected.”

The fraudulent certificate contains the following identifying information:

-Operation name and location: Xi’an Bosheng Biological Technology Co., Ltd., Room 1104, 11F, Dongxing Building, Jiangong Road, Xi’an, China

-Certificate number: 6199ONDDDDz2ec(US)

-Products listed as certified:

Organic Hibiscus Extract Powder

Organic Jasmine Extract Powder

Organic Beet Root Extract Powder

-USDA Accredited Certifying Agent and location: Ecocert SA, L’Isle Jourdain, France (Note: Ecocert SA brought the fraudulent certificate to the attention of the NOP and is not responsible for its production)

-Certificate issue location and date: Northeim, Germany, Jan. 26, 2012 [sic]

  • Doc Mudd

    Ah yes, “organic”: a fool and her money are easily parted.
    It isn’t just China the “organic” consumer needs to be concerned about. Certifiers everywhere, including here in the good ol’ USA are pretty lax when regulating their close friends and buddies in the lucrative organic industry…
    Over-hyped, over-priced “organic” is a magnet for dubious practices and shifty practitioners with spurious sales pitches…
    Even under legitimate certification there are dirty little toxic chemical “organic” practices that are never spoken of in polite company…
    Oh, and of course there is the tedious argument that “organic” does not damage the environment, that it will rescue our planet (as if our planet needs that sort of rescuing). All a clever marketing ploy, as it turns out…
    All in all, the term “organic fraud” is rather sweeping…and very relevant to common production & marketing practices in the industry at home and abroad.

  • I’m an organic farmer and inspector, and believe me when I warn you that this article barely scratches the surface when it comes to fraud in the organic biz.
    President Clinton and the American Consumers Union wanted American organic standards to include field testing; it’s the only way to ensure people don’t cheat, kind of like at the Olympics. Conventional crops, processing facilities and the like are routinely tested; why not organic crops and such? Even a McDonalds restaurant is tested by the health board!
    But, alas, Clinton and the ACU were overruled and the organic industry has been one big free-for-all ever since.
    No testing. No credibility. And to think I used to work in this industry. Tragic.

  • Steve

    Ah, now Doc-ie has some company…
    Here’s Mischa Popoff from Canada who pops up with anti-organic screeds and unsubstantiated claims — and an anti-organic, self-published book to sell.
    Trading on a position as organic inspector a long time ago, Popoff’s present job is a conservative ideologue columnist who makes his bucks impugning the integrity of the organic label and USDA oversight, while simultaneously defending biotechnology and industrial agriculture. He also weighs in as a global warming denier, an ardent critic of hybrid automobiles, and maintains that the American mortgage crisis that precipitated the financial meltdown was caused by “overregulation.”
    Birds of a feather…

  • Doc Mudd

    The vast majority of Americans (the mentally competent ones, anyway) have always recognized the organic emperor has no clothes. Never had.
    Organic has been grossly over-estimating itself:
    Badly regulated, over-hyped and over-priced — that’s organic!
    Of course, paid NOFA propagandists will claim otherwise (that’s their job, right Gilman?)

  • Steve

    Propaganda IS as muddy propaganda Does….
    …and thanks to the Unions, I’m on Holiday — Happy Labor Day every one!

  • Dear Steve:
    If I was really providing an anti-organic screed and making unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the organic industry, why would I state my support for President Clinton and the American Consumers Union? They wanted American organic standards to include field testing. Do you think Clinton and the ACU are conservative ideologues too?
    How does your “Birds of a feather” claim apply now?