Return to Blog May 26, 2023

The National Organic Standards Board to Review Organic-allowed Substances


The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) confirmed plans to include several hydrocolloids in its sunset review process. Announced as a part of its annual notice of renewal process, the NOSB is soliciting public comment on non-agricultural substances used to create or enhance organic substances.

The reviews impact 2028 and 2029 sunset planning, reflecting the 5-year drawdown period if these ingredients are not renewed.

Food ingredients like carrageenan, gellan gum and several other ingredients on the USDA National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances serve vital and irreplaceable roles in safe, healthy and affordable organic foods that meet the needs of consumers and manufacturers alike.

The Primer: What Is the National Organic Standards Board?

Established by the Organic Foods Production Act, the NOSB is composed of 15 organic community volunteers. One of several Federal Advisory Boards, the NOSB’s primary role is to provide guidance on the production, handling and process of all organic products with a special emphasis on foodstuffs. As part of its duties, the board maintains the bi-annual review and renewal of the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Organic and organic-allowed substances on the list must meet the board’s requirements and a review process that includes public comment.

What NOSB Reviews Mean

After conducting its own review and allowing for an appropriate public comment period, the NOSB votes on renewal proposals. If a proposal receives a two-thirds majority, the proposed motion becomes an official recommendation to the USDA.

Renewing and Relisting Vital Ingredients

Tilley Distribution, the International Food Additives Council (IFAC) and food manufacturers across the country support the relisting of these critical non-organic additives, which are all currently approved by the USDA, and were previously recommended for inclusion by the NOSB:

  • Nonsynthetic substances allowed in organic handling:
    • Gellan gum (high-acyl forms only)
    • Potassium chloride
  • Synthetic substances allowed in organic handling:
    • Alginates
    • Glycerides (mono and di)
    • Phosphoric acid
    • Xanthan gum
  • Nonorganic agricultural substances allowed in organic handling:
    • Gums – water-extracted only
    • Lecithin – de-oiled

Why Organic-allowed Substances Matter

These ingredients are used to enhance food products while maintaining organic certification. In every case, organic-allowed substances solve a functional or structural issue that a readily available alternative doesn’t resolve. None of these ingredients pose a risk to the environment or human health, a point supported by vigorous research.

The Organic Foods Future

The USDA and manufacturers are working together to meet the sustained demand for organic products. Revenue from organic food products increased by approximately 88.19% between 2010 and 2021. Certified organic operations increased at an almost identical rate of 90% over the same period.

Crucially, several ingredients up for renewal are used in the fastest-growing organic food products. Organic soy milk and organic almond milk have boomed in the past decade, accounting for 12% of all organic sales in 2022.

Organic Retail Sales by Category in 2021

(Bolded categories include organic-allowed ingredients)

  • Produce – 40%
  • Dairy and eggs – 13%
  • Beverages – 12%
  • Prepared foods – 11%
  • Bread and grains – 9%
  • Snacks – 6%
  • Condiments – 5%
  • Meat/fish/poultry – 4%

Source: USDA

Planning Ahead: Fall NOSB Meeting

The Fall NOSB meeting is scheduled for October 24-26 in Providence, Rhode Island. These meetings are free to attend in person or online, although individuals looking to submit public comments will need to follow instructions from the Federal Register when they become available.

On behalf of our customers and as a member of the IFAC, Tilley Distribution supports the renewal of these organic-allowed substances to help manufacturers provide a safe and affordable product to market.

If you have questions about the NOSB, contact NOSB Advisory Committee Specialist Michelle Arsenault at (202) 720-0081 or email at

How can we help? Speak with a Tilley representative to learn more about organic food certification and specialty hydrocolloids today.