Organic Trade Association
Organic Trade Association
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In response to, May 16, 2007


There has been some confusion in the press and among consumers about compliance with a U.S. District Court order issued as a result of actions that challenged the National Organic Standards in June, 2005.   In March 2007, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met and considered petitions from some processors desiring to be able to continue to market their products as currently formulated.

Currently, any non-organic agricultural ingredients, if an organic version is unavailable,  are being allowed in the remaining 5 percent of the ingredients in products labeled as “Organic” (at least 95% of the ingredients in the products in this category must be organic ingredients, excluding water and salt, by weight).

That has changed with the Court order and USDA’s agreement to tighten the qualifications for these ingredients.

Unfortunately, the May 16 headline “New rule could see more ingredients permitted for organics” is misleading and inaccurate. A more accurate headline would be: “Number of non-organic ingredients permitted in organic products will shrink.” 

When this proposed rule takes effect, only those non-organic agricultural products that have been successfully petitioned to NOSB and published in the Federal Register will be allowed when the organic counterparts are not available. Thus, the number of ingredients allowed under those circumstances will shrink dramatically compared with the current situation.

All other provisions of the regulations pertaining to non-organic agricultural ingredients in organic products remain in place. For example, all non-organic agricultural ingredients used in products in the “made with,” and the “organic” label categories must come from farms that do not use sewage sludge or genetic engineered seeds, and irradiation is also prohibited for those non-organic agricultural ingredients as well.

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