UKAS accreditation of all organic certification bodies requires a mechanism in place to ensure that all certification decisions are made in a fair, consistent and importantly impartial manner. This task falls to the OF&G (Scotland) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
Our TAC is composed of experts from various organic sectors to ensure there is sufficient technical expertise to cover the wide-ranging enterprises within the SOPA Membership.
The TAC is also given authority by the SOPA Board of Directors to supervise that the SOPA Organic Standards are interpreted and implemented correctly to protect organic product integrity.
The TAC must remain independent of the certification process and SOPA Board, and is required to be free from any financial considerations. No SOPA Director or OF&G Scotland staff have a voting right at the quarterly TAC meetings.
Responsibilities of the TAC
The work of the TAC includes:
· Discussion of technical matters relating to the SOPA Organic Producer & Processor schemes and organic certification requirements;
· ensuring that the SOPA Organic producer & processor standards are fit for purpose and meet the legislative requirements for organic food and farming. Changes to the organic standards are only made after lengthy discussion and consultation with appropriate experts, and only on recommendation from the TAC will the SOPA Board adopt a change;
· Considering individual SOPA Member cases, discussed anonymously with only the SOPA membership number used for reference, that need independent assessment to determine compliance to the organic standards;
· making decisions on the interpretation of the organic standards. For example where a SOPA Member has employed a product or management technique that is questionable, the TAC is asked to decide whether it complies or not;
· Assessment of the work of the Certification Officers, organic farm Inspectors and Processing Auditors, to ensure the standards are being implemented correctly;
· the TAC are required to hear appeals, made by SOPA Members, against the decision of their Certification Officer.
· The TAC are often required to investigate when a product or substance has been used that does not comply with the organic standards. These products/substances can often be recommended by a consultant or salesperson who often have an interest in selling the product or who have misinterpreted the requirements or procedures within the SOPA Organic Standards. It is your responsibility to check if a product is permitted in the organic standards prior to purchase and use. If at all unsure please seek clarification from your Certification Officer. Please note we can not advise on the efficacy of a product but only whether a product is permitted for use in an organic system or not.