Food Business News - December 4, 2012 - (Page 28)

Washington Greater organic oversight on the way he Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has moved to tighten its oversight of the expanding organic food industry. Under a final rule published in the Federal Register on Nov. 8, beginning in 2013, accredited certifying agents of the A.M.S.’s National Organic Program will be required to visit annually no fewer than 5% of the farms and businesses they certified as organic to ensure products, production methods and premises remain free from residues of prohibited substances and in compliance with N.O.P. regulations. Under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as implemented by the N.O.P., which was established in 2000, farms and businesses seeking to market products as organic must be certified as meeting the program’s requirements by accredited certifying agents of the N.O.P. If approved, a farm or business becomes certified as an organic food producer or handler and may market its products as such. As of January 2012, there were 17,281 organic farms and processing facilities in the United States that were certified as meeting U.S.D.A. organic standards and permitted to market their products accordingly. The U.S. organic industry achieved $31.4 billion in sales in 2011. Additionally, thousands of foreign producers and businesses have been approved as providers of certified organic products to the New rule requires a minimum of 5% of organic farms and businesses to be inspected each year T United States. Worldwide, as of January 2012, there were 28,386 U.S.D.A.-certified organic operations in 133 countries. To certify the operations as organic, the A.M.S. enlists the services of more than 100 accredited agents (inspection companies) worldwide, with about 93 of the agents operating in the United States. Once certified as organic producers, though, most approved farms and businesses weren’t likely to be visited by their certifying agent to ensure their products remained free from prohibited substances used in commercial farming and that the methods employed in producing their crops or livestock remained in accordance with U.S.D.A. organic regulations. An audit of the N.O.P. conducted by the U.S.D.A. Office of the Inspector General in March 2010 revealed that none of four U.S.-based accredited certifying agents it visited conducted periodic residue testing at operations they initially certified as organic producers or businesses to the N.O.P. The inspector general’s office indicated the certifying agents noted they considered residue testing to be required by regulations only “under certain circumstances,” for instance, if there was a complaint. The A.M.S. said it reviewed the issue and concluded under the Organic Food Production Act accredited certifying agents are required to conduct residue testing of organic products on a regular and reoccurring basis as well as when there is reason to believe contamination has occurred. The A.M.S. in 2011 published for comment a proposed rule requiring periodic residue testing to be conducted at organic operations, and the proposed rule, with modifications, was the basis for the final rule issued in November. The final rule requires accredited certifying agents to take samples and tests each year from a minimum of 5% of the operations they certified as organic operations to the N.O.P. “Basing sampling on a percentage of the operations reduces the burden on the certifying agents by providing a clear and simple formula for how to comply with the regulations,” the A.M.S. said. “The 5% requirement satisfies the A.M.S.’s intent to discourage mislabeling of agricultural products and provides a means for monitoring compliance with the N.O.P.” The A.M.S. indicated it considered alternatives to the 5% target, but proposals for testing 25% of operations or even 100% of the operations each year were considered too costly and beyond the aim of alerting certified organic producers they must continue to ensure they adhere to U.S.D.A. organic regulations. “The objectives for periodic residue testing can be met by sampling a subset of operations annually, and, therefore, the additional costs that would be required to test all operations are unnecessary,” the A.M.S. said. The A.M.S. said it would leave selection of operations to be inspected each year to the discretion of the agents. “Certifying agents are knowledgeable about the risk factors affecting the operations they certify,” the A.M.S. said. “Therefore, it is appropriate for a certifying agent to determine what operations should be tested under this action.” In a Nov. 8 letter to accredited certifying agents, Miles McEvoy, A.M.S. deputy director, said, “As long as you test at least 5% of 28 FOODBUSINESS NEWS ® December 4, 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Business News - December 4, 2012

Food Business News - December 4, 2012
Persistent ConAgra sees many Ralcorp benefits
F.D.A. suspends Sunland’s facility registration
Large potato crop pushing prices lower
Table of Contents
Web Contents
Editorial - In mourning there is a learning in demise
Researchers develop new nutrition scoring algorithm
Frozen foods remain a challenge for Heinz
Clean label confectionery products on the rise
Campbell Soup pursuing new consumers
Single-serve packs propel Green Mountain earnings
Green Mountain appoints new chief executive
Diamond Foods formally parts ways with ex-c.e.o.
Agropur to invest $100 million in cheese plant
Hormel cautiously hopeful about growth prospects
Added value at the heart of Tyson’s growth strategy
Food and beverage recalls jump 57%
Coca-Cola invests $1.3 billion in Chile
Washington - Greater organic oversight on the way
Ingredient Innovations - Positives in calorie subtraction
Stevia innovations lead to calorie reductions in beverages
Questions about calorie count for almonds, other nuts
Health and Wellness - Strengthening bones with additional nutrients
New Food Products
Ingredient Market Trends - U.S.D.A. forecasts record ag exports in fiscal 2013
Ingredient Markets
Supplier Innovations and News
Ad Index
Food Business in the News

Food Business News - December 4, 2012