2 Petitions Seek Tighter Standards for Organic Food Industry

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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has filed two petitions with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) in efforts to remove a non-organic ingredient from the National List of approved substances, and to increase requirements for organic ingredients.

Lignin sulfonate, used as a floating agent in organic pears, fails to meet criteria for organic production, says the OTA, and therefore should be removed from the NOP's approved item list.

The OTA also wants the NOP to require the use of organic flavors instead of natural flavors in organic products whenever organic flavors are available. Currently, natural flavors can be used in otherwise organic products even if organic options exist.

“OTA supports the rigorous process that has been established for adding or removing materials from the National List,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA in a statement. “The process encourages organic stakeholders to be innovative and tenacious to find organic inputs that are most compatible with organic principles. The changes to the National List that OTA is requesting are a result of the organic industry embracing new ideas and blazing new trails. That’s the philosophy behind the National List.”

Substances allowed on the National List must meet one of three criteria, according to the Organic Foods Production Act: 1) They are not harmful to human health or the environment; 2) They are essential to and compatible with organic practices; 3) There are no commercially available organic or natural alternatives.

“While the belief of the organic sector has always been the fewer synthetic substances in the organic process the better, it is also important to realize that in some cases, until organic alternatives are found, some synthetic substances may be necessary to safely produce and process an organic product,” Gwendolyn Wyard, Regulatory Director, Organic Standards & Food Safety for OTA said in a statement. “It is important to make sure these essential materials stay on the National List until alternatives are developed.”

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