NOSB Drops Fortified Wine, Antibiotics from National List

August 20, 2015 - Conventionally-produced Marsala and Sherry wine will be formally dropped from the USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) this year, along with two antibiotics formerly used to treat bacterial infections in organic fruit trees.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted last year to remove non-organic fortified wines from the National List, and also to uphold the expiration of exemptions allowing use of the antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline in organic production.

In 2007, non-organic Sherry and Marsala wine were temporarily placed on the National List because they were considered key flavor ingredients for a handful of prepared foods, such as frozen dinners, and organic versions were not available. But organic fortified wines are now widely available, and the move to drop non-organic versions from the National List was not controversial.

That was not the case for the removal of streptomycin and tetracycline, which were used to treat fire blight, a serious bacterial infection, in organic apple and pear orchards. The removal was opposed by many organic fruit growers, but the NOSB chose to let the substances drop from the National List last year, when their exemption expired.

Use of the two antibiotics has actually been prohibited in organic production since October 21, 2014, but the current process of formal removal from the National List is required under federal regulation.

For more information, read the Proposed Rule document at regulations.gov.

By Maria Gaura, OFRF Communications

Image of fire blight disease courtesy USDA