Organic rules changes affect yeast, pectin, colors
BakingBusiness.com, July 13, 2012
by Jeff Gelski

WASHINGTON — National Organic Program rule changes approved in June involved yeast and several other items related to the baking industry, including pectin, a rodenticide and colors. The rule changes followed recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board in accordance with a sunset review held every five years. They were found in the June 6 Federal Register, pages 33290 to 33302.

The board ruled that when yeast is used as food or a fermentation agent in products labeled as organic, the yeast must be organic if its end use is human consumption. The amendment is effective Oct. 21. It covers autolysate, bakers, brewers, nutritional and smoked yeasts.

“It is our understanding that organic yeast is required only in products labeled as organic, which category is reserved for products comprised of at least 95% organic ingredients,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice-president, government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association, Washington. “Bakery products labeled as ‘made with organic (specific ingredients/food groups)’ do not need to be made with organic yeast, as U.S.D.A. confirms on Page 33296 in the Federal Register and is consistent with U.S.D.A.’s general rules for the ‘made with organic ...’ product category.”

In the ruling on yeast, the board said non-organic yeast may be used when organic yeast is not commercially available. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organics Program defines “commercially available” as the ability to obtain a production input in an appropriate form, quality or quantity to fulfill an essential function in a system or organic production or handling, as determined by the certifying agent in the course of reviewing the organic plan.

Ms. Sanders said, “Determining commercial availability is left to the certifying agent, who must consider issues of functionality and quality when determining whether organic yeast is commercially available. That is, a baker should not be required to use dried organic yeast in place of fresh conventional yeast where the end product will be compromised by such a substitution.”

The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances spells out the non-synthetic, non-agricultural (non-organic) ingredients permitted in processed organic foods under the National Organic Program. The National Organics Standards Board reviews the list every five years, which is known as the sunset review.

The recent sunset review led to the removal of exemptions for pectin (low-methoxy), which typically is used in low-sugar and low-acid foods, and sulfur dioxide, a rodenticide. The two removals from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances went into effect June 27. The board let stand the exemption for non-amidated forms of pectin.

One rule change altered the status of colors derived from agricultural sources to stipulate that they could not be made with synthetic solvents, carriers or preservatives. It went into effect June 27.