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JAS Certification - What is it?

JAS Certification - How can it assure an Organic Product?

Japanese started to be conscious about their food

When men started to be conscious about anything they intake in their body, one of the most conscious ones is the Japanese. When industrialization boomed in Japan around the 1960s, people in the nation raised concerns about the pollution and other materials that could mess up with their food raised in farms. Japanese are curious as to what comprises the food that they eat. This started the commercializing of organic products. Because of the Japanese's consciousness of what is in their food, sellers and dealers would commercialize their chemical-free items. Because of the wide popularity of organic food, there was a need to set up standards to know what "true" organic food is.

JAS Certified Organic


Knowing about JAS Certification that started the labelling of Organic Products

1950, Japan started labeling organic products and was later introduced on food products in the 1970s. It was a little bit modern time when Japan already conducted a system for this only around 2000 when organic plants and organic processed foods of plant origin, then eventually extended to include livestock products such as animals, eggs, and processed animal products such as cheese, to provide principles of organic production, criteria for production methods, and a system of labeling. Eventually, Japan systemized and mandated the process only around 2001. The Japan Agricultural Standard or JAS of the Japanese government was created as a certification and labeling system that provides a quality standard for food production, beverages excluding alcohol, and forestry products. 

How does JAS Certification work?

A third-party organization issues a Certification called registered overseas certifying bodies recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or MAFF, to the producers, manufacturers, distributors, or importers of organic products following the approved Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling, and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods. The labeling process is being issued for overseas third-party organizations to eliminate biases in certifying agricultural and food products as organic. A certified JAS logo is stamped on the products that pass the JAS quality standard, issued to registered business entities that have been certified by the registered overseas certifying bodies to verify that organic foods are produced in compliance with JAS. This already clarifies an ordinary buyer's naked eye between chemically-produced or induced food products and organic ones. The JAS also prohibits selling agricultural products and processed foods as "Organic foods" with names such as "有機," "Organic," etc., without the Organic JAS logo. As long as the product comprises at least 95% organic, it would already be approved with the Organic JAS logo.

Of course, the regulations have prohibitions for producers and manufacturers too. The organic plant or food of plant origin producers is prohibited from using agricultural chemicals and fertilizers. Instead, they request the non-use of recombinant DNA technology and list the criteria for exercising the soil's productivity and the cultivation method to minimize load to the environment. 

The JAS also has a say as to the yearly certification of the production method on and conditions of the field for, regardless of the number of crops produced in an area upon inspection by the registered certifying body, soil fertility, as well as the use of organically produced seeds and seedlings for reproductive seed plants and vegetative reproductive plants and non-use of recombinant DNA technology.   

There are different labels for organic plant products, such as "organic plant," "organically grown plant," "organic farming," and "organic," both written in Japanese and English.

USDA: Keeping the imported JAS Certified Organic Products recognized as safe in the United States

In 2019, Japan was the fifth largest destination for U.S. agricultural exports. This is a sign that the United States, through the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which provides the process for a producer to receive authorization to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 's "USDA Organic" seal on its products, works hand in hand with Japan's JAS. Both have the same purpose: ensuring food safety for consumers and guarantees that organic products are grown and processed according to their respective guidelines and regulations. The difference between the two is that while JAS used third-party certifiers, the USDA itself is the certifier. Also, unlike JAS that would authorize the use of the JAS logo as long as the product is 95% organic, the USDA could seal "made with organic" labels or 100% organic labels. On the other hand, products with at least 70% organic ingredients may put the label "made with organic ingredients" or "contains organic ingredients" but may not display the USDA seal.

USDA Organic

The Mutual Certification Agreement between JAS and USDA keeps Organic Products for both countries authentic

Generally, USDA and Japan-certified organic products are eligible for trade under this equivalence. Japan's JAS Law, particularly Article 12 of such, regards Japan's systems and other countries equivalent and treats other countries' certified organic products like those of Japan. The products certified as organic of the recognized countries by the registered certifying body as having an equivalent quality grade as that of Japan will be distributed in Japan with an organic JAS logo. Starting June 1, 2014, certified organic products, including organic plant, including fungi, and plant-based processed products of both United States and Japanese origin, can be sold as organic between the two countries following the US-Japan Equivalency Agreement. The new U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement will provide both nation's farmers and ranchers enhance market access in one of the largest agricultural export markets. As long as the terms of the arrangement are met, U.S. and Japanese organic products certified to the USDA organic standards or JAS may be sold, labeled, and represented as organic in both countries. As a result of the trade arrangement, either organic seal may be used on products traded under the agreement. 

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