USDA issues draft guidance on calculating organic percentage

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has published draft guidance on calculating the percentage of organic ingredients in products.

This guidance clarifies how to:
  • Calculate organic percentages of multi-ingredient ingredients used in organic processed products.
  • Determine the organic content of single-ingredient ingredients (raw or processed).
  • Exclude water from the calculation of ingredients used in organic processed products.
  • Calculate the organic content of carbonated beverages.
  • Exclude salt from ingredients used in organic processed products.
The documents include a self-calculating form and examples of how to complete the form for different types of products containing multi-ingredient ingredients.

The USDA organic regulations establish labeling categories for organic products based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product. Products labeled “organic” must have a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients, and those labeled “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” must have a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients. Products containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can list organic ingredients on the ingredient panel, and may also list the organic ingredient percentage on the information panel, but cannot claim “organic” on the principal display panel.

The calculation of the percentage of organically produced ingredients is described in the USDA organic regulations. However, certifying agents have interpreted the requirement differently, leading to an inconsistency in how the regulations are applied. This guidance will ensure that the organic regulations are consistently applied.

The draft guidance, Calculating the Percentage of Organic Ingredients in Multi-Ingredient Products, will be available in the NOP Handbook on the National Organic Program website. Notice of the guidance is also be available at www.regulations.gov by searching for “AMS NOP Calculating the Percentage of Organic Ingredients.”

AMS is accepting comments on this draft guidance until Feb. 6, 2016. If you would like to comment, visit www.regulations.gov.

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