What are Organic Ingredients?
Organic ingredients must be grown and processed using organic farming methods. Plant based ingredients must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
For meat based ingredients, the livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic ingredients may not be irradiated. Organic ingredients must be certified under the National Organic Program.1-2
On October 21, 2002, the organic labeling guidelines were established by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) to assure consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy.3
How are organic ingredients certified?
In order to claim an ingredient as organic, the producer needs to go through a certification process. The organic certification agency approves all packaging, artwork, sanitation, chemicals and pest control. Once approved, businesses receive registration and a business license for a $2,600 fee. The whole process can take 12 to 16 weeks.4
How is the organic product labelled?
- 100% Organic—Foods bearing this label are made with 100% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic seal.5
- Organic—These products contain at least 95–99% organic ingredients (by weight). The remaining ingredients are not available organically but have been approved by the NOP. These products may display the USDA Organic seal.5
- Made With Organic Ingredients—Food packaging that reads “Made With Organic Ingredients” must contain 70–94% organic ingredients. These products will not bear the USDA Organic seal; instead, they may list up to three ingredients on the front of the packaging.5
- Other—Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may only list organic ingredients on the information panel of the packaging. These products will not bear the USDA Organic seal.5
What can bakers do?
When bakers are switching to organic ingredients, it is not just the product that changes, but the entire baking ecosystem.4
- Start by getting rid of blacklisted ingredients, such as potassium bromate, SSL, ADA, L-cysteine and calcium propionate. Instead, use ingredients such as enzymes, lecithin, ascorbic acid or cultured wheat with vinegar. If your focus is bread products, the more aged the flour is, the easier it will be to handle in dough.4 Check out this list for organic ingredient solutions.4
- Keep the mixing temperature down. Most organic breads require a lot more gluten. This creates a lot more heat during mixing. Especially with bigger batches, it’s crucial to keep the temperatures down.4
- When it comes to staleness and texture issues, take a look at your oven. With organic baking and baking independent from conventional shelf life extenders, you have to know what’s going on in your oven. Over baking dries out products and shortens shelf life.4
- “FAQ: Becoming a Certified Operation.” FAQ: Becoming a Certified Operation | Agricultural Marketing Service. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/faq-becoming-certified. Accessed 02 Dec. 2016.
- “Title 7 Agriculture Part 205 National Organic Program” ECFR — Code of Federal Regulations. U.S. Government Publishing Office, 30 Nov. 2016. www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?tpl=%2Fecfrbrowse%2FTitle07%2F7cfr205_main_02.tpl. Accessed 02 Dec. 2016.
- “Organic Education.” Organic.org – Certified Organic Label Guide. N.p., n.d. www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-201. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.
- Carson, Lin. “Solutions for the Natural and Organic Baker | BAKERpedia.” Bakerpedia, 14 Oct. 2016. www.bakerpedia.com/solutions-natural-organic-baker/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.
- McEvoy, Miles. “USDA Blog » Understanding the USDA Organic Label.” USDA Blog RSS 2. United States Department of Agriculture, 22 July 2016. blogs.usda.gov/2014/05/16/organic-101-understanding-the-made-with-organic-label/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.