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Organic Standards Board Considers Designation Change for Dairy Cultures

Oct 30, 2006

Organic Standards Board Considers Designation Change for Dairy Cultures

Earlier this month, two committees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic standards board proposed changes to the definition of "non-agricultural substances" that could have a significant impact on the cost and availability of ingredients for organic dairy foods. After receiving requests from several groups, including IDFA, to postpone action on the proposed changes, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) agreed to take more time to consider the recommendations and determine appropriate next steps.

"We're pleased that the National Organic Standards Board accepted our appeal and agreed to allow more time. We now hope the board members will accept comments from the industry, so they can understand the true impact of the proposed changes before taking any further action," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

Members of the NOSB Handling Committee and Materials Committee had decided that changes were needed to clarify inconsistencies in the current designation. Specifically, the committees recommended changing the designation for dairy cultures and yeast to "non-organically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as organic or made with organic ingredients."

In its letter to NOSB, IDFA asked the board to delay final action and called for a public comment period to help determine how processors, their suppliers and their organic product offerings would be affected. While the exact ramifications remain uncertain, IDFA is concerned that the proposed shift in designation could raise the cost of ingredients used in organic dairy products and limit the availability of organic products that use these ingredients.

"Once an agriculturally produced organic ingredient is available, all processors are required to use that ingredient to retain their product's organic or made with organic designation," said Hough.

To be included in the organic category, products must be made with at least 95% organic ingredients and no more than 5% non-organic ingredients. These non-organic ingredients must be included on the National List of acceptable additives and are only allowed if an organic form of the ingredient is not commercially available. Products in the "made with organic ingredients" category must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, with the balance made up of non-organic ingredients.

To read IDFA's comments, click here.

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Posted October 30, 2006

Dairy Delivers