Processing Standards Committee

The remit of the Processing Standards Committee is to develop and keep under review our food processing standards and to deal with issues referred to the committee from licensees, Soil Association members, the public and Soil Association Certification Ltd. We aim to have a representative spread of appropriate expertise on the Committee together with consumer and public interest representatives.

Committee members as at January 2014:

  • Benjamin Dent: Food policy and business researcher, Imperial College London (Chair)
  • Dorothy Cullinane: Food technologist and advisor, Cullinane Associates
  • Eurwen Richards: Dairy consultant
  • Callum Devine: Technical Manager, Nicholas & Harris
  • Veryan Bliss: Technical & Commercial Director, Suncrop Ltd
  • Simon Dale: Global Technical Director, Ella's Kitchen
  • Tim Appleton: Sustainability & Technical Compliance Manager, Duchy Originals
  • Catherine Scoones: Lay member

The Committee last met on 18 September 2013 and concluded the following:

Ethylene - recommend allowing the use of ethylene for sprout inhibition in stored potatoes and onions, bringing our standards in line with the Regulation.

  • Ethylene uses less energy than the alternative of using heat/cooling to control sprouting
  • Allowing the use of ethylene increases the market for British grown produce by prolonging the period for which UK grown crops can be stored
  • Reduced health concerns associated with greening which accompanies sprouting, (which produces chemicals associated with spina bifida in pregnant women).

Anatto, bixin and norbixin (colourants in cheese) – recommend permitting bixin and norbixin as per EU Regulation 889/2008

Organic rosemary extract – recommend permitting organic rosemary extract as per EU Regulation 889/2008

Labelling of vitamins C and E – increase clarity of labelling for the consumer – allow labelling of ascorbic acid and tocopherol as Vitamin C and Vitamin E but also include either E number or additive name.

Bakery tin release agents – delete requirement to use organic release agents, but continue to require the use of organic dusting flours (if flour is used). Invite manufacturers of organic release agents to contact us.

Sulphur dioxide (SO₂) levels in wine of 2-4.9 mg/l residual sugar – recommended levels of 100mg/l total; 30mg/l free SO₂ for red and 140mg/l total and 30mg/l free SO₂ for white and rosé.

Organic additives – propose requiring use of locust bean gum, Arabic gum and guar gum as organic. New exceptional permission to publish for soya lecithin. Remove requirements for other additives to be organic due to lack of availability.

Sterilisation techniques

  • Microwaves – recommend approve the use for sterilisation
  • Ultra violet light – confirm use for reduction of microbial loading
  • Vapour phase hydrogen peroxide – do not permit.

These recommendations from the Processing Standards Committee were considered by the Standards Board on 20th November 2013 and will finally be considered by the Council on 21st January 2014.

If you would like any information about the discussions of the Committee on these subjects, please contact Isabel Griffiths, Standards Manager at igriffiths@soilassociation.org

The Processing Standards Committee will next meet on 15th July 2014.