May synthetic ingredients be added to organic foods during processing?

In the European Union (EU), unnecessary processing of organic products is not permitted by EU regulations, although a limited list of synthetic non-organic ingredients and substances for processing is allowed.[50]

In the USA, synthetic, non-organically produced agricultural substances may also be used in the processing of food labelled as ‘organic’, with 79 non-agricultural ingredients approved if not commercially available in organic form.[51]

What are the organic food labelling legal requirements?

In the European Union (EU), the terms ‘organic’, ‘bio’ and ‘eco’, alone or combined, can only be used if at least 95% of the product’s agricultural content (by weight) is organic; the term ‘organic’ cannot be used for a product containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or produced from GMOs.[52]

In the USA, regulations define that (excluding salt and water) ‘100 percent organic’ products must contain 100% organic agricultural ingredients, while ‘organic’ products must contain a minimum of 95% organic agricultural ingredients.[53]

Are ionisation radiation or other similar practices allowed in organic food processing?

In both the European Union and the USA, ionisation radiation is banned in organic food processing.[54], [55] All types of chemical treatment (gas or otherwise) are considered as pesticides and fertilisers; non-essential treatment is not permitted, and only the approved organic farming substances are allowed.

Are nanoparticles allowed in organic food processing?

The use of organic-approved ingredients in nano scale is not restricted in the European Union or the USA, meaning that both natural and engineered nanoparticles may be added to foods without limitations as to the particle size.

50. Official Journal of the European Union (2007), Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, Article 6. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:189:0001:0023:EN:PDF
51. US Government Publishing Office, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205: National Organic Program, §205.301 and §205.605. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=a5b155ba6da8c49616dcd44de509f65d&mc=true&n=pt7.3.205&r=PART&ty=HTML
52. US Government Publishing Office, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205: National Organic Program, Article 23. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=a5b155ba6da8c49616dcd44de509f65d&mc=true&n=pt7.3.205&r=PART&ty=HTML
53. US Government Publishing Office, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205: National Organic Program, §205.301. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=a5b155ba6da8c49616dcd44de509f65d&mc=true&n=pt7.3.205&r=PART&ty=HTML
54. Official Journal of the European Union (2007), Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, Article 10. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:189:0001:0023:EN:PDF
55. US Government Publishing Office, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205: National Organic Program, §205.104 and 205.301. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=a5b155ba6da8c49616dcd44de509f65d&mc=true&n=pt7.3.205&r=PART&ty=HTML