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Additives in Salt

Can salt that contains additives be used in organic processing?

By Annie Amos

Although the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations state that salt is excluded from organic ingredient percentage calculations, many salts contain anti-caking, free-flowing, or conditioning agents that may be prohibited for use in organic processed foods. Additives or processing aids present in salt must be reviewed for compliance with §205.605(a) or (b) before the salt can be used.

Common salt additives that are allowed in the NOP rule include tricalcium phosphate, silicon dioxide, and potassium iodide. Tricalcium phosphate is an allowed synthetic under Calcium phosphates (monobasic, dibasic, and tribasic) at 205.605(b). Silicon dioxide is also an allowed synthetic at 205.605(b). Potassium iodide is commonly added to salt in the US to prevent iodine deficiencies. Potassium iodide is listed as a nonsynthetic substance at 205.605(a). Therefore only nonsynthetic forms of potassium iodide can be used to for iodized salt used in organic processed foods.

Some salt additives are not allowed in organic foods. The Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) monograph for Sodium Chloride includes limited use of sodium ferrocyanide (also known as Yellow Prussiate of Soda, or YPS) or green ferric ammonium citrate for use as crystal-modifying and anti-caking agents. These are synthetic substances that are not found at 205.605(b), and are therefore prohibited for use in organics. Salts containing these substances should not be used in organic production.

To find out whether a salt contains prohibited compounds, check for any additives or processing aids used in the manufacturing process. The Product Data Sheet (PDS) will give specific information about the salt ingredients. Producers should check with their certifiers before using any salt in their operations.

Revised and updated in April 2016 by OMRI Technical Director Johanna Mirenda. This article was originally published in the Winter 2011 edition of the OMRI Materials Review newsletter.