The U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned one of the biggest food inspector groups in the nation from operating in China, reports the New York Times, because of conflict of interest concerns. It turns out the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) was using employees of a Chinese government agency to inspect Chinese government-owned farms, which sort of misses the point of independent certification entirely.
The Times points out that the USDA first noted the conflict of interest in 2007, but because of how slow the internal appeals process works, it took until now for the formal ban to be issued.
The USDA says it plans to send an independent audit team to China later this year to review how certification works.
“U.S. Drops Inspector of Food in China” [New York Times]