ABA: Organic yeast proposal could cause massive headache for bakers

26 April 2011

Bakeryandsnacks.com (26/4/2011) has reported that proposals in the US to prevent bakers from calling their wares organic if they use standard baker’s yeast could “dramatically impact availability in the organic bakery product category”, the American Association of Bakers (ABA) has warned.

Currently, standard (non-certified organic) baker’s yeast is on USDA’s National Organic Program's (NOP's) national list (205.605) of non-organic agricultural products that are allowed to be used as ingredients in products labeled organic, with yeast in this NOP list under a group of substances referred to as nonsynthetic or natural substances.

However, last October, USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommended an annotation to be added for yeast on the National List stating: ‘When used as food or a fermentation agent, yeast must be organic if its end use is for human consumption. Non-organic yeast may be used when equivalent organic yeast is not commercially available.’

If this is approved at the NOSB meeting in Seattle this week (April 26-29), it could have major ramifications for the organic bakery category as organic yeast is “not readily available”, said the ABA,  with them only knowing of one company in Germany producing organic yeast that fit USDA’s criteria. However, the quantity being produced is not adequate to supply the vast North American bakery market. Therefore this requirement would dramatically impact the availability in the organic bakery product category.

To add to the bakers’ woes, in March 2010, the NOP issued a guidance document for certification of organic yeast (NOP 5014) requiring that raw materials, or substrates for growing organic yeast must also be certified organic. However the most common carbohydrate substrate currently used for production of yeast is molasses. Organic molasses is in very limited supply and is much more expensive than conventional molasses.