Quality Assurance International (QAI) is a US-based international organic certification company that is authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as “a USDA-accredited certifying agent that operates globally to certify organic operations to National Organic Standards Program.” It is a for-profit corporation, established in 1989, and headquartered in San Diego, California. It is one of the world’s largest certifiers, operating in the United States, Canada, Latin America, European Union, and Japan. It is owned by the public health and environmental organization NSF International.
QAI offers organic certification under the National Organic Program for agricultural producers, food processing facilities, integrated manufacturing operations, contract packing operations, traders, distributors, retailers, and consumers.
QAI, in partnership with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), developed a science-based gluten-free certification program. The stringent nature of the QAI certification protocols ensures prevention of infection and co-mingling, critically important for those with allergies to gluten and gluten-intolerance. The QAI and NFCA “Gluten-Free” certification programs are less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to receive certification. The program includes:
IAQ certifies personal care products to the National Organic Program guidelines. These products can be certified to the NSF / ANSI 305 Standard for Personal Care Products “Contains Organic Ingredients.” Under this program, products with a minimum organic content of 70 percent (070) that meet the requirements of the organic label and the claim of “Contains Organic Ingredients.” These products can bear the unique NSF / ANSI 305 “Contains Organic Ingredients” mark, as well as the QAI “Choose Quality” mark. The Organic Trade Association considers this standard a best practice. It is required by some retailers for personal care products that do not meet the National Organic Standard Program for Food.
QAI, in partnership with STAR-K, provides a kosher and organic auditing program. Rabbiical Supervision can be certified to the kosher certification requirements and to the USDA National Organic Standards Program for organic certification.
As an accredited certifying agent under the USDA’s National Organic Program, QAI is also accredited by the USDA for ISO 65 compliance, the Japan Ministry of Agricultural Forestry for JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) compliance, and the Council on Reserved Appellations and Valuing Terms ( CARTV).
QAI is the only USDA-accredited organic certifying agency able to offer joint certification to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Safe Quality Food (SQF) and FSSC 22000 global food safety standards, which is required by many retailers under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
QAI Achieved ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Accreditation in June 2010. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 provides guidance on how to manage the environmental aspects of an organization’s activities, products and services more efficiently. ISO 14001 focuses on reducing the environmental footprint, pollution and waste produced by businesses, which is consistent with QAI’s mission to help support organic agriculture and protect the environment. ISO 14001 registration verifies that QAI has effective procedures in place to monitor and continually improve its environmental performance. To obtain ISO 14001 registration, QAI reduced energy and raw material use; implemented a paperless documentation and billing management system; developed a recycling program for paper, plastic containers and bags, electronics, mercury-containing light bulbs and batteries; coffee and tea, tea bags and fruit / vegetable food scraps.
QAI holds the following accreditations:
QAI works with other leading food safety and quality organizations. As a result, QAI is able to provide additional services:
QAI sponsors the Earth Day Fair in San Diego to help educate the community on the benefits of “going organic.” QAI is also active in the San Diego District School, serving on the Board of Directors for the Terra Nova Academy, specializing in environmental education and training in San Diego. NSF team members also judge science fairs and mentor teachers, helping the community cultivate a commitment to the environment and all stages of life. QAI is also active in the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to help protect and promote organic practices. QAI Senior Vice President Joe Smillie has served as OTA president and a member of the board of directors. QAI President Kristen Holt is currently serving on the board of directors as treasurer.
In July 2008, it was reported that organic glyceride was tested by QAI, was found to be contaminated with the pesticide Aldicarb. The organic ginger from which the QAI certified organic powdered ginger has been certified organic by two other USDA accredited certifying agents in China. Under Chinese law, foreigners may not inspect Chinese farms.