Regulatory Recap - Organic Food & Non-Food Processors

2018 was a relatively quiet year for manufacturers of organic food, fiber and other non-food categories with the exception of a historical change to the allowance of natural flavors used in organic products, a mile marker precedent set by the Federal Trade Commission and a handful of amendments made to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

Organic flavors required when commercially available 

NOP's final rule released on December 27 includes a historical change to the annotation for natural flavors that will require organic forms when they are commercially available in the appropriate quality, quantity or form. The change is a result of a petition the Organic Trade Association submitted to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in November 2014 that was widely supported, and resulted in a unanimously passed NOSB recommendation. We are pleased to see great progress to develop and use organic flavors, and we continue to be committed to protectively leading efforts to develop and support the use and development of organic ingredients.

FTC takes action on misleading organic mattress claims

Enforcement in 2018 extended to significant action take taken by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Organic Trade Association has been meeting regularly with FTC and NOP since 2012 to urge FTC to exercise its consumer protection authority regarding inaccurate or misleading organic claims made on products that fall outside NOP’s scope of enforcement (e.g. shampoo, textiles, mattresses). Under its consumer protection jurisdiction, FTC has authority to act on misleading or fraudulent “organic” claims, although it previously has not exercised that authority. Our message to FTC over the years has been loud and clear: Not enforcing organic claims in ALL products risks diluting the integrity of and trust in the organic seal. Finally, setting stage for 2018, FTC took action and settled its first case against a company making misleading “organic” product claims. We commend FTC for this action against the deceptive use of the word “organic,” and will continue to pursue the next step to ensure that this critical precedent results in an update of FTC’s Green Guides to help marketers make only true and substantiated organic claims on non-agricultural products.

Changes to National List for allowed minor ingredients and processing aids/sanitizers

The NOP final rule adds the following three substances to the National List for use in organic handling: Hypochlorous acid, potassium lactate, and sodium lactate. Hypochlorous acid is allowed as a chlorine material for disinfecting and sanitizing, while potassium lactate and sodium lactate are allowed for use as antimicrobial agents and pH regulators only. The rule also amends the allowances for alginic acid (reclassified as synthetic), natural flavors (requires organic forms when commercially available), carnauba wax (reclassified as agricultural, requiring organic forms when available), cellulose (clarifies that microcrystalline forms are prohibited) and chlorine (clarifies the restriction to be consistent with NOP guidance on rinse procedures and residual disinfectant limits). Finally, the rule reclassifies glycerin from “synthetic” to an allowed agricultural product, thereby requiring the use of organic forms when commercially available, and it amends the listing of colors to reference binomial nomenclature instead of CAS #’s. The amendments for flavors, cellulose, glycerine and carnauba wax will become effective on December 27, 2019. The others are effective as of January 28, 2019. //