The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) reviews all non-organic substances that are allowed to be used in the growing, cultivating, harvesting, and processing of organic certified products. In the tea industry, these are typically organic compliant natural non-genetically modified (GMO) flavors.
These flavors meet the organic regulations for approved substances to be certified under the 95 percent rule. The 95 percent rule allows a tea purveyor to use 95 percent certified tea with up to 5 percent organic compliant flavors.
The issue at hand is that “flavors” are up for sunset voting this year. If the NOSB votes to sunset (delist) flavors, beginning in 2022 only organically certified flavors will be allowed. Though some organically certified flavors are available, there are also those that are not available organically certified.
Additionally, certified organic flavors typically cost 20-30 percent more and have about one-third to one-half of the strength in aroma and taste; which means more flavoring is required to achieve the same result.
The vast majority of flavors used in the tea industry are organic compliant natural non-GMO flavors. In talking to several tea manufacturers about this potential change, they state this would cripple their organic programs, and, in fact, many have said they would abandon organics completely. This would result in a significant decrease in organically certified teas for consumers to purchase.
This is a call to action for anyone who manufactures or sells organic flavored teas. It is critical that you weigh in on this debate and let the NOSB know your thoughts so your voice is heard. The deadline for submitting comment is October 4.
Click on the Organic Trade Association link below, which will take you to its web page. Scroll down to HANDLING and click the link for the FLAVORS survey. Make sure to fill out the survey completely. The more tea companies we can get to fill out the survey, the more likely it will be for flavors to stay on the “approved” list for another five years!
To comment directly to the National Organic Standards Board, click the link below.