Organic board seeks input in April meeting

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON – The National Organics Standards Board plans to receive input from the organic community at a meeting April 26-29 in Seattle before finalizing its recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture. Two meeting topics will be animal welfare and adding materials to a national list of allowed and prohibited substances.

A livestock committee will present two recommendations. One seeks a move toward a comprehensive animal welfare program concerning humane handling, transport and slaughter in certified organic operations. The other recommendation seeks to refine, but not replace, a November 2009 N.O.S.B. recommendation and aim to more clearly identify the parameters that define animal welfare on certified organic operations.

The national list identifies synthetic substances that are exempted (allowed) and non-synthetic (natural) substances that are prohibited from use in organic production and handling. The handling committee at the April meeting will present recommendations on the four petitioned materials of attapulgite, calcium acid pyrophosphate (CAPP), silicon dioxide and sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP).

A petition points out CAPP, when used as a replacement for SAPP as a leavening agent in organic baked foods, may reduce sodium content. The N.O.S.B. committee, however, recommended against adding CAPP to the list for use as a leavening agent in organic baked foods.

“There is no comparative discussion in the petition of what the actual sodium reduction would be, whether it would be significant enough to justify adding another synthetic material to the national list, or even if organic consumers desire lower sodium content in their baked goods,” the committee said.

The N.O.S.B. also recommended against adding SAPP to the list for use as a sequestrant on cooked and uncooked produce.

The N.O.S.B. at the April meeting will address six material listings scheduled to sunset in 2012 and whether they should remain on the national list of allowed and prohibited substances. A finished product qualifies for an organic seal from the U.S.D.A.’s National Organic Program if at least 95% of the product is organic and the remaining non-organic substances appear on the national list.

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