Date: Aug 01, 2001
Processing aids currently being used by producers of organic foods
will become the subject of scrutiny at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),
according to comments made during a videoconference sponsored by the Institute of Food
Keith Jones, program manager of the USDA’s National Organic
Program (NOP), sent ripples of concern through the organic food industry when he said:
“We know that there are a lot of common processing aids that are used across the
country that are not on the National List. And if it’s not on the National List come
Oct. 21, 2002, you cannot use that particular ingredient or processing aid and label a
product as organic.”
Processing aids include some products used in production and
packaging, such as lubricants for conveyors or cleaning agents used to washdown packaging
The Organic Foods Protection Act (OFPA) of 1990 requires the USDA to
develop national standards for organically produced agricultural products, which the USDA
has done through the adoption of the NOP. As part of the program requirements,
agricultural products labeled as organic must originate from certified farms or handling
The OFPA also requires USDA to establish a National List of Allowed
and Prohibited Substances (the “National List”), which identifies the synthetic
substances that may or may not be used in organic production and handling operations.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is responsible for making
recommendations as to whether a substance is suitable for use in organic production.
Anyone may petition the NOSB to have a substance evaluated by the board for inclusion or
deletion from the National List.
The criteria for adding processing aids to the National List include:
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