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Updates to the Canadian Organic Standards and Permitted Substances Lists (PSL)

March 30, 2016 | Categories: Industry Updates, Organic, Handler, Producer

Have you heard? The Canadian Organic Standards and the Permitted Substances Lists (PSL) have been revised. The process of revision involved many stakeholders from the organic sector across Canada, and has resulted in many changes to all aspects of the standard (crop, livestock and processing).

For processors and handlers, here are a few changes that may affect your organic operation:

  • Hand sanitizers have been added to the scope of the Canadian standard. If you use hand sanitizer and there is contact between hands and organic food, the ingredients of the sanitizer must be listed on Table 7.3 of the PSL (these are the substances permitted for use without a removal event such as alcohol).
  • Chlorine compounds (bleach) used as a sanitizer may be used up to maximum label rates provided that you can confirm removal prior to organic contact. Rinsing with water or evaporation are both considered acceptable “removal events.”
  • For chlorine compounds in contact with food, it has been clarified that the concentration can be no higher than the level permitted in drinking water.
  • Vitamins and minerals shall be used only “if legally required.” Previously, products could be fortified if a dietary or nutritional deficiency could be demonstrated. In the 2016 renewal, confirmation will be needed that any added vitamins or minerals are legally required by the relevant legislation in place for your product (e.g. the Food and Drug Regulations). Note there are a few exceptions, including fortification of plant-based beverages (soy milk, almond milk, etc.), cheese and butter substitutes.
  • For ingredients such as citric acid, ascorbic acid and xanthan gum which are the product of a microbial process, there is a new requirement. While the microbe itself must be non-GMO, now the growth media must also be checked to ensure it is not derived from GMO sources. If you cannot find a version of this ingredient produced with non-GMO growth media, a commercial availability search will need to be documented and submitted for review.
  • For microbes (or microbial products) that aren’t purified and include some of the growth media (such as dairy cultures), the growth media ingredients will need to be listed on the PSL processing tables (6.3 – 6.5). Any other ingredients used in microbial preparations (such as carriers or anti-caking agents) must also be listed in Tables 6.3-6.4.
  • The revised Permitted Substances Lists now clearly indicate ingredients for which a commercial availability search is required – including yeast, glycerol, gelatin, lecithin, waxes and meat curing agents (such as cultured celery powder).

QAI has been working hard to update all of our forms and documentation to reflect the revisions. There is a phase-in period of one year to come into compliance with the revised standard, which ends on November 25, 2016. Your CPM and the QAI International Specialist will work with you to answer questions and ensure you have the information you need to come into compliance with the revised standard and PSL.

For further information, please see these documents: