Synthetic Nutrients in Organic Foods
Organic food should contain organic ingredients, and nutrients in organic foods shouldn’t come from artificial additives. The organic law allows some exceptions to the rule that organic foods should contain only organic ingredients: some artificial ingredients are allowed if they are deemed to be essential. The organic rule currently allows for “nutrient vitamins and minerals,” and references Food and Drug Administration regulations (FDA). This listing has created a loophole, as some manufacturers of organic foods, especially infant formula and baby foods, have interpreted this to mean that any artificial or non-organic ingredient that can be considered a “nutrient” can be added to organic foods. We don’t agree, and the USDA as well has written in a public memo that previous administrators at the National Organic Program did not interpret this standard correctly.
Our work to close the loophole
We have submitted comments to the National Organic Standards Board asking them not to renew the listing for “nutrient vitamins and minerals” at sunset review votes, and urging them instead to recommend that each synthetic nutrient be individually reviewed and listed, if it meets the criteria in the Organic Food Production Act. This approach would not leave the door open to such wide interpretation.
Our complaint to the USDA
We asked the USDA to investigate possible violations of the National Organic Program standards by a company that markets toddler formula as “organic,” when it contains four synthetic nutrients that were rejected for use in organic foods by the NOSB.