WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture will publish a proposed rule under the National Organic Program (NOP) that addresses using vitamins and minerals in organic foods.
This rule, which will be published Jan. 12, was written to align organic standards with Food and Drug Administration rules and provide a clear list of vitamins and minerals allowed in organic products.

USDA explains the proposed rule would correct an inaccurate reference to FDA’s fortification policy and clearly delineate that only vitamins and minerals the FDA has classified as essential are permitted in products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic [specified ingredients or food group(s)].”

Unless listed separately on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List), nutrients not covered under this proposed rule would be prohibited in organic products. This section of the federal organic standards lists the non-organic ingredients and processing aids allowed in organic processed products. The proposed rule includes a two-year implementation period to allow companies to change their formulations to comply with the new requirements.

On Jan. 12, the National Organic Program will publish a proposed rule that would renew the allowance or prohibition of the substances used in organic production and handling that are scheduled to expire later this year. The proposed rule would renew the listings for more than 200 National List substances. The allowance for seven substances would be clarified or restricted: chlorine materials (for use in crops and livestock production); lignin sulfonate (crops); streptomycin (crops); yeast (handling); colors (handling); hops (handling); and, pectin – high-methoxy (handling). Three allowances would be removed: sulfur dioxide (crops – underground rodent control); pectin – low-methoxy (handling); and potassium iodide (handling).

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an independent board of organic industry stakeholders, must review all National List substances under the sunset provisions of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Each substance must meet several criteria, including consistency with organic agricultural systems, impact on the environment and human health, and essentiality in organic production and handling. The advisory board also considers natural alternatives to each National List substance. This advisory board must then recommend if each specific exemption or prohibition should be renewed for another five years.

The proposed rule will be available at www.regulations.gov (search for docket number AMS-NOP-10-0083). The proposed sunset 2012 rule, along with additional background information, will be available at www.regulations.gov (search for docket number AMS-NOP-09-0074). Information on how to submit a comment will be included on the www.regulations.gov site along with dates for the comment period.

Comments should be submitted at www.regulations.gov or mailed to Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250. All comments will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov.