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Are Terpenes Organic? The Role of Terpenes in Organic Products

Can terpenes be sourced organically? What does comparable-to-organic mean? Organic compliant? We understand the confusion. Read on and learn about the role of terpenes in organic and comparable-to-organic products.

With more consumers preferring organic products, it’s understandable why manufacturers are on the hunt for organically sourced ingredients. That includes the terpenes used to infuse products with aroma, flavor, and sensorial effects. 

So, manufacturers can simply purchase terpenes derived from organic sources. Right? Well, it’s complicated. Read on and learn more about the role terpenes play in organic and comparable-to-organic products.

Abstrax Tech can provide you with an organic-compliant statement that identifies any Natural Flavors we qualify as meeting the NOP criteria to be considered organic-compliant.

A Brief History of “Organic” Farming

The term “organic” has undergone quite a transformation over the last century. The marketing concept of organic farming was birthed at the beginning of the twentieth century in response to the negative environmental effects of mechanized agriculture (soil erosion, decreased crop varieties, decreased food quality, etc.). 

Over the next several decades, consumers became more aware of the differences between organic and non-organic produce, but certification varied by state. It wasn’t until the 80s that farmers and consumers began heavily advocating for government regulation, which led Congress to pass the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990.

The OFPA's goal was to establish national standards for organic products. However, it took ten years of debate before the National Organic Program (NOP) was created and another two years before any of the regulations went into effect

What Does “Organic” Mean Today?

Today, “organic” is a designation achieved through certification to the federal USDA National Organic Program (NOP). In order for a product to be labeled organic, it’s required to “...be produced using agricultural production practices that foster resource cycling, promote ecological balance, maintain and improve soil and water quality, minimize the use of synthetic materials, and conserve biodiversity.”

Certification is overseen by a USDA-authorized agent, and products must be produced without excluded or prohibited methods (e.g., genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, etc.) and only with allowed substances.

So, why haven’t you seen any cannabis or cannabis products with that fancy little USDA organic product label? Surely, there are cannabis farms that meet the requirements for certification, right? There most definitely are, but unfortunately, because the cannabis industry is not (yet) federally regulated, cannabis and cannabis products are not eligible for this certification. 

That means even when cannabis farmers and manufacturers meticulously follow all the rules and regulations required for organic certification, it’s not legal for them to advertise themselves as organic. That’s why programs like OCal Cannabis Certification are so important.

OCal Cannabis Certification Program

While certification is only available for operations located in California and licensed by the Department of Cannabis Control, the OCal Cannabis Certification Program establishes and enforces comparable-to-organic cannabis standards. Products that have earned the “OCal seal have been certified to consistent, uniform standards comparable to the National Organic Program.” 

What Does This Mean For Terpenes?

So, how can manufacturers use terpenes in their products and still qualify as organic or comparable-to-organic? It involves using terpenes that fall under the regulations dictated by the USDA NOP national list of allowed and prohibited substances.

These regulations allow for the use of (non-certified) “organic compliant" natural flavors provided they meet the following criteria:

  • They meet the FDA definition of a flavor.
  • They’re from non-synthetic sources.
  • They’re not produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservatives. 
  • They must be produced without the use of excluded methods such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ionizing radiation. 

A relatively new requirement is that (non-certified) “organic compliant" flavors may only be used when organic certified flavors are not commercially available. However, this criterion can easily be satisfied by showing that a certified organic flavor isn't available in the same quantity, quality, or form as our (non-certified) “organic compliant" flavor.  When dealing with unique custom flavors, especially unusual cannabis profiles, it is particularly challenging to find two flavors of the same profile and quality.

Abstrax Tech Takes Sourcing Seriously

The end consumer (your customer) is more likely to become a repeat buyer of your products if their experience is exceptional. So, our very first step is to make sure that we’re sourcing exceptional plant matter. We start by rigorously sourcing our raw material with flavor and aroma quality in mind. 

We also approach our terpene isolates a bit differently than our competitors. Instead of getting hung up on percentages and purity, we source and refine our isolated terpenes by how they smell and how they taste while still satisfying every regulatory and safety threshold.

Plus, if needed, we can provide you with an organic-compliant statement that identifies any Natural Flavors we qualify as meeting the NOP criteria to be considered organic-compliant. Flavor blends that qualify as organic compliant can typically be used in a USDA NOP-certified “organic” product, or OCal comparable-to-organic product, up to 5% dosage.  up to 5% dosage.

Still have questions? Let’s talk. Contact us today, and let’s discuss how you can optimize the aroma, flavor, and sensorial effects of your products with our terpene isolates, blends, and profiles.

Organic Compliant Terpene Profiles

Hailing from the San Fernando Valley, a local fan favorite, SFV OG has an innate herbal bouquet that's moderated with pine and citric tones but contains a refreshing updraft of earth.

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