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Organic industry leaders issue updated guidance on organic dietary supplements

Guidance on organic regulatory requirements, from farm to packaged product

Maggie McNeil
Washington , DC
January 24, 2018
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The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Quality Assurance International Inc. (QAI) announce the availability of an updated, free resource for the health supplement industry titled Guidance on Formulation and Marketing of Dietary Supplements Under the National Organic Program (NOP). AHPA and QAI originally developed and released the first edition of the document in 2013; OTA collaborated with AHPA and QAI to revise the document to reflect recent developments in the organic industry that may impact supplement products.

Food, dietary supplement, and other products that contain agricultural products grown and processed in accordance with the NOP may be identified as organic if certain conditions are met. Products containing only ingredients that are certified 100 percent organic and produced with organic processing aids, if applicable, can display the statement “100 percent organic” on the product label’s principal display panel (PDP). Products containing at least 95% organic ingredients and allowed non-organic ingredients and processing aids may display the statement “organic” on the product label’s PDP. These products may bear the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Seal. Products containing at least 70% organic ingredients and allowed non-organic ingredients and processing aids can display the statement “made with organic [specified ingredients or food groups]” on the product label’s PDP. These products may also truthfully identify any certified organic ingredients on a label’s ingredient panel.

The AHPA/OTA/QAI guidance document provides an overview of the regulatory requirements, from farm to packaged product, to help product marketers meet their regulatory obligations for finished organic products and the organic ingredients in those products. The document also describes the types of supplements that are eligible for organic certification under the NOP and the various NOP labeling categories that are available for several types of supplement products.

“Growing consumer demand for organic products and ingredients makes it important that all companies have a shared understanding of what is required to comply with federal laws and regulations for organic labeling,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “AHPA thanks OTA and NOP for their support of the organic dietary supplement industry.”

“Companies that market organic dietary supplements must be familiar with the relevant sections of the NOP regulations,” said Gwendolyn Wyard from OTA. “These standards assure consumers that products with the USDA Organic Seal meet consistent, uniform standards.”

“Organic certification stands for assurance that a product has been verified to be in compliance with the strict federal regulations for organic,” said Jessica Walden from QAI. “This guidance will greatly assist the industry’s in-depth understanding of how the organic production and labeling standards apply to organic dietary supplements.”

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of more than 350 member companies, consisting primarily of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs and herbal products as foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs, and also including companies that provide expert services to the herbal trade.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.

QAI (Quality Assurance International) is a leading provider of organic certification services, verifying organic integrity throughout the supply chain. Additional certification services include certified transitional, gluten-free, kosher, natural personal care, social responsibility and food safety through its parent company NSF International. QAI remains dedicated to the environment while providing educational outreach to the organic community, customers and consumers. Headquartered in San Diego, California, the company has grown to include operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.