By vast

Published: January 28, 2020

Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

A final rule published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) now requires the use of certified organic flavors in certified organic products when they are commercially available. The rule was implemented and went into effect on December 27, 2019.

“It is now time that the regulations catch up with the marketplace,” says Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our position is that the organic flavor supply has grown to a size where it is no longer appropriate to allow the use of non-organic natural flavors in certified organic products.”

The Organic Trade Association submitted a petition to help grow the availability and use of organic flavors in 2014. Natural flavors have been included on the National List since it was first implemented in 2002. Since that time, however, many organic flavors have been developed, and are being successfully used by many companies.

“When we filed the petition, we realized the number of available certified organic flavors was not adequate to meet the current total needs of the organic marketplace. However, given the tremendous growth of organic flavors, we took this proactive step to push the needle in the direction of continuous improvement by requiring the use of organic flavors when they are available in the quality, quantity and form needed,” says Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs.

Organic Trade Association develops guide to comply with new rule

Currently there is no formal guidance from the National Organic Program on the commercial search and use of natural and organic flavors for NOP certified products. However, the Organic Trade Association has developed a practical guide to complying with the new requirements for flavors, for its members and others in the sector that reflects the National Organic Standards Board recommendations concerning commercial availability searches for ingredients and related instruction from NOP on filing a petition.

According to the Guide, companies using natural flavors in certified organic products do not need to panic about the change. The trade association has drawn up information to help certified operators develop a sound and sensible organic flavor search plan that can be submitted to and agreed upon by the accredited certifier. 

The intent of the final rule is continuous improvement to increase the growth and use of organic flavors over time. The intent is not to hand down non-compliances to companies unable to secure organic flavors when they do not meet the specifications needed to make a product that organic shoppers will buy. Instead, the goal is for companies to start the process, make a search and evaluation process, and work with their certifiers on an annual basis to determine when and what organic flavors are commercially available.

Commercial availability is defined as the ability to obtain an ingredient or substance in an appropriate form, quality or quantity to fulfill an essential function in an organic product as determined by a certifying agent in the course of reviewing a company’s organic plan. An organic handling system plan must include a list of each substance to be used, including its composition, source, location where it will be used, and documentation of commercial availability. Price cannot be a consideration in determining commercial availability.

Source: Organic Trade Association

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