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Quality Assurance International
ServicesOrganic, gluten-free, non-GMO, natural personal care, and social responsibility certifications.
ParentNSF International

Quality Assurance International (QAI) is a U.S.-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 Program standards."[1] 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.[2]

Organic certification

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 ultimately consumers.[3]

Gluten-free certification

QAI, in partnership with National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA),[4] developed a science-based gluten-free certification program.[5]

The nature of the QAI certification protocols ensures prevention of contamination and co-mingling, critically important for those with allergies to gluten and gluten-intolerance. The QAI and NFCA "Gluten-Free" certification program requires companies to produce products at less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to receive certification.[6]

Personal care certification

Under this program, products with a minimum organic content of 70 percent (070) that meet the requirements can make the organic label and marketing claim of "Contains Organic Ingredients". These products can bear the unique NSF/ANSI 305 "Contains Organic Ingredients" mark. The Organic Trade Association considers certification to this standard a best practice. It is required by some retailers for personal care products that do not meet the National Organic Program standard for food.[7]

International 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 Agriculture Forestry for JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) compliance, and Le Conseil des appellations reservées et des termes valorisants [fr] (CARTV).[8]

Food safety

QAI offers 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).[9]

Environmental policy

QAI achieved ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems accreditation in June 2010.[10]

ISO 14001 registration verifies that QAI has effective procedures in place to monitor and continuously 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; and instituted a composting program for coffee grounds, tea bags and fruit/vegetable food scraps.[11]


QAI holds the following accreditations:[12]

National Organic Program (NOP)
ISO Guide 65
European Recognition Programme (EU)
ISO Guide 65
Canadian Organic Regime (COR)
ISO 14001


QAI works with other leading food safety and quality organizations. As a result, QAI is able to provide additional services:[13]

Community and industry advocacy

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 as a member of the board of directors. QAI President Kristen Holt currently serves on the board of directors as treasurer.[14]

Past controversy

In July 2008, it was reported that organic powdered ginger that had been certified by QAI, was found when tested to be contaminated with the banned pesticide Aldicarb. The organic ginger from which the QAI certified organic powdered ginger originated had been certified organic by two other USDA accredited certifying agents in China.[15] Under Chinese law, foreigners may not inspect Chinese farms.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "News release No. 0529.05 USDA APPOINTS ORGANIC BOARD MEMBERS". USDA. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  2. ^ "Quality Assurance International Fact Sheet". Quality Assurance International. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  3. ^ "QAI Organic Certification". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "A New, Science-Based Gluten-Free Label Consumers Can Trust". Press Release. Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  6. ^ "QAI Services: Gluten-Free Program". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  7. ^ "QAI Services: Personal Care Certification". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  8. ^ "QAI Services: International Certification". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  9. ^ "QAI Services: GFSI Certification". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Leading Organic Certifier Earns Environmental Management Systems Registration". Press Release. Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  11. ^ "QAI Environmental Policy". Quality Assurance International (QAI). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  12. ^ "QAI Accreditations". Quality Assurance International (QAI).
  13. ^ "QAI Partnerships". Quality Assurance International (QAI).
  14. ^ "QAI Community Advocacy". Quality Assurance International (QAI).
  15. ^ "I-Team: Organic Food Contamination". WJLA / ABC 7 News. 2008-07-24. Archived from the original on 4 January 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2014. [Dr. Lynn Goldman, Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health:] 'Ginger with Aldicarb is not legal food.' In fact, the California Health Department warned consumers that this pesticide can cause nausea, headache and blurred vision....even at low levels.
  16. ^ Richardson, Jill (August 6, 2008). "Is Your Organic Food Really Organic?". AlterNet. Retrieved 4 September 2014.