Non-organic lecithin banned in organic foods

By Ken Roseboro
Published: May 1, 2012

Category: Non-GMO Ingredients

Clarkson Grain developed the first organic lecithin in the United States

Clarkson Grain developed the first organic lecithin in the United States

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Lecithin becomes first non-organic ingredient to be removed from the National List

In February, the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) published a rule that removed non-organic fluid lecithin from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

The rule means that organic food companies that use fluid lecithin must now use only the organic version. Prior to the new rule they could use a non-organic fluid lecithin.

The only exception is that non-organic de-oiled or granular lecithin may be used but only when an organic form of de-oiled lecithin is not commercially available. This isn’t likely to happen too often since the vast majority of lecithin used in food products is fluid.

Lecithin is used in organic processed products as a natural mixing agent (emulsifier) or lubricant.

The new rule took effect on March 15. It marks the first time that a non-organic ingredient has been removed from the National List, which contains non-organic or synthetic ingredients that organic food companies can use in their products.

Many organic supporters have opposed the use of non-organic ingredients in organic foods.

Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain, which developed one of the first organic lecithin products, said the new rules demonstrate that it is possible to develop organic alternatives to non-organic ingredients.

“I’m delighted to be part of the first ingredient to be removed from the National List. This shows that the National List doesn’t have to grow; it can shrink,” he said.

Clarkson said it took his company eight years to develop an organic lecithin, and for years Clarkson was the only supplier. Now he says there are several suppliers of organic lecithin in Europe, South America, China, and India, demonstrating that a new market can be created by developing new organic ingredients.

“Someone pushed hard to open the market and then more companies became suppliers. This is a good model,” he says.

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, May 2012