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Non-Organic Lecithin Removed as Approved Ingredient in Organic

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The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recently voted to remove conventional lecithin from the National List of synthetic materials allowed in organic processing. It marks the first time that a synthetic ingredient would be removed from the National List.

The removal of lecithin resulted from petitions filed by Lynn Clarkson of Clarkson Grain to remove bleached and unbleached lecithin from the National List because sufficient quantities of organic lecithin are now available. Clarkson's company introduced organic lecithin in 2004.

The NOSB voted 13 to 1 to remove bleached lecithin from the list of non-organic substances allowed as ingredients in organic products (205.605) and voted 13 to 1 to change the allowance for lecithin under 205.606 from "lecithin-unbleached" to "lecithin-de-oiled."

De-oiled or dried lecithin is not available in organic form.

The majority of lecithin used, 95%, is liquid, while just 5% is de-oiled.

Curtis Bennett, vice president of Clarkson Soy Products, called the removal of lecithin a major victory. "It will help create more organic lecithin companies, which is a good thing," he said.

He also said the removal of lecithin sets a precedent that other companies may follow in creating organic alternatives to non-organic ingredients currently allowed in organic foods. "We now have a proven process for removing materials from the National List once organic sources are shown to be available," states NOSB chair Jeff Moyer.

However, Bennett said the allowance for de-oiled lecithin opens a loophole for GMO risk. "The NOSB is not even saying you have to use non-GMO de-oiled lecithin."