The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) has issued an interim rule extending the use of nutrient vitamins and minerals in organic handling while the agency considers a proposal to renew their exemption (use) on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) for another five years. According to a September 27, 2012, Federal Register notice, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) previously published a proposed rule during its 2012 sunset review that recommended continuing the use of nutrient vitamins and minerals “as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))’” after their National List exemption expired on October 21, 2012. The proposed rule also sought to correct “an inaccurate cross-reference to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in the listing for vitamins and minerals on the National List.”

The interim rule will allow handlers and processors to keep fortifying their organic products with vitamins and minerals while the proposed rule is under consideration. Meanwhile, the National Organic Standards Board has started reviewing petitions for the ingredient annotations that would be affected by the corrected cross-reference with FDA’s fortification policy. As FDA apparently explained to NOP, the agency does not consider substances such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, inositol, choline, carnitine, and taurine as essential nutrients governed by its fortification policy at 21 CFR 104.20, which also does not cover infant formula.

“Once the NSOB has completed its review and has issued recommendations on all petitioned nutrients, the public will be able to more fully comment on the implications of correcting the FDA cross-reference as proposed,” states AMS. The petitions currently under review pertain to (i) docosahexanoic acid (DHA) algal oil, (ii) arachidonic acid (ARA) single-cell oil, (iii) inositol, (iv) choline, (v) ascorbyl palmitate, (vi) synthetic beta-carotene, (vii) L-camitine, (viii) lycopene, (ix) lutein, (x) L-methionine, (xi) nucleotides, (xii) taurine, and (xiii) amino acids for pet food. AMS will consider all comments received by December 26, 2012, before issuing its final rule.