Organic Products EU vs USA

What makes a food product organic according to European and United States standards

In recent years, the demand for organic food products has surged as consumers become more conscious of their health and environmental preservation. But what exactly makes a product organic, and how do regulations differ across regions? The term “organic” carries specific definitions and standards, which we will illustrate here.

This article seeks to demystify the concept of organic food by defining its key features and distinguishing it from natural products. It will then examine the regulations in Europe (EU) and the United States (US).

Finally, the article will introduce Tocobiol® Organic, a unique product certified organic according to US standards, highlighting the rigorous processes behind such certification.

Organic food products: global definition and misconceptions

An organic product is produced, processed, and handled according to specific agricultural and food production standards. These standards prohibit synthetic chemicals, meaning that organic foods are grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers allowing only natural substances in the farming process. Another key point is the non-use of genetically modified organisms (non-GMO). This means that they are produced without genetic engineering.

To be labelled as organic, a product must meet rigorous standards set by certification bodies. In this context, it is important to distinguish between “organic” and “natural” products, as these terms are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.

Organic products

“Organic” is a labeling term found on products produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Natural products

On the other hand, the FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic has been included in the final products. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation.

The EU and the US maintain their own organic standards and certification processes. Despite regional differences, these regulations converge on many core principles, such as:

  • Prohibiting synthetic chemicals and GMOs.
  • Emphasizing animal welfare.
  • Promoting environmental sustainability.

Notably, both regulations allow up to 5% of non-organic ingredients in organic products, provided these ingredients are included in a specified list of authorized substances.

EU and US regulations about organic food products

European regulations

In the EU, organic food production is governed by the Regulation 834/2007, which sets comprehensive standards for organic farming, including crop production, livestock, aquaculture, and processed food. A crucial aspect of the EU regulation is its strict certification process for organic products, which involves regular inspections by accredited bodies. Products that meet these standards can display the EU organic logo, assuring consumers of their compliance with organic farming practices.

One key distinction in the EU regulation is the allowance of up to 5% of non-organic ingredients in organic products, provided these substances are listed in the EU’s authorized list. This ensures that even when a product cannot be entirely organic due to specific ingredient availability, it still maintains a high standard of organic integrity.

US regulations

In the US, the National Organic Program (NOP), administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), sets the standards for organic food production. Established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and its updates, the NOP regulations require that organic crops be grown without synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.

A distinctive feature of US regulations is the specific labelling categories for organic products. These include “100% Organic” for products made entirely with organic ingredients, “Organic” for products with at least 95% organic ingredients, and “Made with Organic Ingredients” for products containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients can list organic components in the ingredient panel but cannot use the USDA organic seal.

Tocobiol® Organic in organic food products

BTSA’s Tocobiol® Organic meets all the stringent requirements for the 100% organic certification of both EU and US regulations. It represents a significant innovation in the field of technological antioxidants for food and nutraceutical products, as it is the first 100% organic tocopherol-rich extract. It is a unique product developed exclusively by BTSA, a global company with over 30 years of experience in creating natural ingredients, particularly natural antioxidants and vitamin E.

Achieving 100% organic certification for a technological antioxidant, such as an extract rich in tocopherols, is notably challenging. The entire production chain, from the organic raw materials to the final antioxidant product, must be meticulously monitored and verified by accredited certification bodies. Firstly, all ingredients must be sourced from organically grown plants, adhering to strict agricultural practices that avoid synthetic chemicals and GMOs. Secondly, the extraction and processing methods must maintain the integrity of these organic ingredients: in the case of Tocobiol® Organic no synthetic solvents, such as Hexane or Toluene, have been used for its extraction.

One of the significant advantages of Tocobiol® Organic is that being entirely organic, it does not count towards the 5% non-organic ingredient limit established by both EU and US regulations. This allows for unlimited use in the formulation of organic food and nutraceutical products. Consequently, formulators can include other essential non-organic ingredients, such as additives and preservatives, within the allowed 5% percentage without compromising the product’s overall organic status. This flexibility is particularly beneficial in optimizing product formulations, ensuring that organic products maintain their integrity while achieving desired functional properties.