USDA Publishes 2016 Sunset Review Notice

February 22, 2016

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced it is implementing the National Organic Standards Board's (NOSB) 2016 Sunset Review recommendations to renew seven substances on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) for use in organic production and handling.

USDA is renewing two synthetic substances for crop production:

  • Ferric phosphate, which is used as slug or snail bait, and
  • Hydrogen chloride, which is used for delinting cotton seed for planting.

USDA is also renewing two non-synthetic and three synthetic substances allowed in organic handling.  The non-synthetic substances include: 

  • L – malic acid, derived from apples and grapes, which is used to add tartness to food, and
  • Microorganisms (any food grade bacteria, fungi, and other microorganism) used for fermentation in the production of cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, wine, and other fermented foods.

The synthetic substances include:

  • Activated charcoal, only from vegetative sources, which is used as a filtering aid;
  • Peracetic acid/peroxyacetic acid, which is used in wash and/or rinse water, according to FDA limitations, and as a sanitizer on food contact surfaces; and
  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate, which is used only as a leavening agent.

The USDA organic regulations allow most natural substances and prohibit all synthetic substances in organic farming, except those included on the National List. The National List identifies the exceptions to this rule and includes: synthetic substances that are allowed in organic agriculture, natural substances that are not allowed in organic agriculture, and all non-organic substances allowed in processed organic products.

Once a substance is added to the National List, the NOSB, a Federal Advisory Committee appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, must review the substance every five years. This is called the “sunset review process.” After the NOSB completes its sunset review, the USDA renews or removes the substances on the National List to complete the sunset process.  USDA values public comments and previously solicited stakeholder feedback regarding these substances at the NOSB meetings and/or in the Federal Register

This action will publish in the Feb. 23, 2016, Federal Register.  For more information, view the Federal Register notice