8 Substances Removed from USDA’s Approved National List for Use in Organics

8 Substances Removed from USDA's Approved List for Use in Organics
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The USDA has published its final rule on approved non-organic ingredients allowed foruse in organic products for 2017. The new rule, effective August 7, removes eight substances from the National List of approved products, including three synthetic substances and five agricultural substances.

Non-organic chia, dillweed oil, frozen galangal, frozen lemongrass, and chipotle chile peppers will no longer be allowed in certified organic foods. The new rule also prohibits the use of lignin sulfonate, which is used as a floating agent in post-harvest handling; furosemide, a loop diuretic sold under the brand name Lasix; and magnesium carbonate, an inorganic salt used in both foods and medicines.

“Organic forms of chia, dillweed oil, galangal, lemongrass, and Chipotle chile peppers continue to be allowed in organic products and are not affected by this ruling,” reports Growing Produce.

The new rule also renews the listing of three substances: inulin-oligofructose enriched, Turkish bay leaves, and whey protein concentrate. These three substances will next be reviewed by the National Organic Standards Board in 2022.

The National List was established by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 as a way to allow certain synthetics in organic products and prohibit certain natural materials. Modifications are made regularly as part of the “sunset” provision, which stipulates that each substance on the National List undergo a regular review.

“No exemption or prohibition contained in the National List shall be valid unless the National Organic Standards Board has reviewed such exemption or prohibition as provided in this section within 5 years of such exemption or prohibition being adopted or reviewed and the Secretary has renewed such exemption or prohibition,” reads the provision.

Adding a material to the National List requires a two-thirds majority “yes” vote from the National Organic Standards Board. 2013 modifications to the sunset review process include more opportunities for public input and a two-thirds majority vote to remove a material from the National List. In the past, a two-thirds majority was required to retain a material rather than remove it.

“In part, this change was in response to the failure of the Board to consistently use a factual and science-based case why a material on the list, which had already been vetted by the supermajority for listing, should be removed,” explain Harold Austin, NOSB member and David Granatstein of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, of this change.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.