The U.S Organic Trade Association has outlined its position on the use of certified organic flavors in organic products and that it is no longer appropriate to allow the use of non-organic natural flavors in organic products. The move comes as a new rule was published by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and went into effect on December 27, 2019, according to the U.S. Organic Trade Association.

The new U.S. rule comes as the deadline for renegotiation of organic equivalency under new EU rules comes into effect on from 1 January 2021, while natural flavors, which were excluded from the 95 percent ingredients rule, will be sharply restricted and companies may only use in organic processing, natural flavors originating from mentioned ingredients.

There are also changes to categories of products that can be organically certified. Lookup Organic equivalency needs renegotiation under new EU rules when CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) Laura Batcha said it is now time that the regulations catch up with the marketplace. “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,” she said.

The Organic Trade Association submitted a petition to help grow the availability and use of organic flavours in 2014. Natural flavours have been included on the National List since it was first implemented in 2002. Since that time, however, many organic flavours 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,” said Gwendolyn Ward, vice president of Regulatory and Technical Affairs.
Currently, there is no formal guidance from the NOP on the commercial search and use of natural and organic flavors for NOP certified products. However, the OTA has developed a practical guide to complying with the new requirements for flavors for its members and others in the sector, which reflects the National Organic Standards Board recommendations concerning commercial availability searches for ingredients and related instruction from NOP on filing a petition.
The OTA 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 OTA said. The intent is not to hand down non-compliances to companies unable to secure organic flavors when they do not meet the specifications. 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. An organic handling system plan must include a list of each substance to be used. Price cannot be a consideration in determining commercial availability.