By David Gutierrez | The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has renewed its approval for 46 non-organically produced substances to be used in foods and beverages that are labeled “organic.” At the same time, the agency withdrew its approval for a type of food coloring and a food additive.
Under the Organic Foods Production Act, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board is required to renew approval every five years for any non-organic ingredients that are allowed into organic foods.
The products renewed include five agricultural non-organic products and 41 non-agricultural, non-organic products. The agricultural produced products are corn starch, kelp, pectin, unbleached lecithin and water extracted gums. Some of these are not individual products, but categories; water-extracted gums, for example, include arabic, carob bean, guar and locust bean gums. Kelp may only be used as a thickener or a dietary supplement.
The 41 allowed non-agricultural products include common ingredients such as citric and lactic acid; calcium carbonate; calcium chloride; carnauba wax; bakers, brewers or nutritional yeast; dairy cultures; flavors; sodium carbonate; glycerin; mono- and diglycerides; and xanthan gum.
The USDA withdrew its approval, however, for colors derived from non-synthetic sources and for potassium tartrate derived from tartaric acid.
The organic industry is the fastest-growing agriculture sector in the United States, currently accounting for 3 percent of all food and beverage sales. Retail revenues have risen 20 to 24 percent each year since 1990, from $1 billion to nearly $17 billion in 2006. They are expected to reach nearly $24 billion by 2010.
At the same time, acreage of organic agriculture operations more than doubled from 2001 to 2005, to a current 4.05 million acres. The number of organic operations increased by more than 18 percent in the same period, to a 2005 value of 8.500 crop and livestock operations and 2,900 handling operations.