Neotame: Threat to Organics Sponsored by Monsanto or Internet Hoax?

January 6th, 2011

We have received several inquiries about the artificial sweetener Neotame, and the Internet rumor that this synthetic additive is allowed in certified organic foods. Neotame, as a synthetic additive, is not allowed in organic foods, contrary to the Internet rumor.

None of the bloggers who perpetuate this anti-organic myth reference primary sources to substantiate their claims. As their sources, they reference one another instead of going to the source – such as the Code of Federal Regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration indeed considers Neotame to be a direct food additive (21 CFR 172.829), but this does not mean that it can be added to organic foods. Organic foods cannot contain synthetic additives, unless these additives have been petitioned and approved to appear on the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances (7 CFR 205.605). Emily Brown Rosen, Standards Specialist at the USDA’s National Organic Program, writes about neotame: “For organic food, all additives must appear on the National List.” Neotame has never been petitioned or approved for inclusion on the National List, and therefore cannot legally be added to organic foods.

We see no evidence, and see no reason to suspect, that any organic certifying agents would allow organic food manufacturers to violate the federal standards by adding this synthetic sweetener.

Moreover, as a direct food additive, neotame must be listed on the ingredients label, contrary to suggestions that this could be added to food in a stealth-like manner (21 CFR 101.100). We have not seen any evidence to suggest that neotame is being added covertly to organic foods. Not only would organic manufacturers be breaking the law by adding this synthetic sweetener to organic foods, they would also be breaking the law by not including Neotame on the ingredient label.

Charlotte Vallaeys
Farm and Food Policy Analyst
The Cornucopia Institute

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