What is Organic Salt?
Unfortunately, as of yet there still is no organic certification for salt in the United States. The USDA classifies salt as only a mineral – not a living thing with carbon compounds and the like. While we here in the U.S. do not have this official recognition for our salts, some countries have wonderful certifications for organic sea salts, such as Nature et Progrés in France, BIO-GRO in New Zealand and the Soil Association in the United Kingdom. However, these are not currently recognized by the USDA.
But is there a solution? Yes! All of SaltWorks’ salts are all-natural, which complies with organic standards, and so they can be deemed “organic compliant.” In other words, they are able to be used as an ingredient in organic products without affecting the end product’s organic status, as they contain no anti-caking agents or other additives. This is the highest and most natural guarantee possible for salts in the United States.
As for the other certifications – they are very stringent and guarantee the highest quality salts. That’s why SaltWorks will accept nothing less than certified sea salts where available. For instance, Nature et Progrés mandates that only wooden hand-tools are used in the harvesting of the salt, a process which is completed entirely by hand. The taste remains pure because no metal instruments are used to gather or package the sea salt. The ponds, located in a nature reserve, are required to be a safe distance from roads and industry to help ensure that they remain free of pollution. Only exceptionally clean sea waters are used. No purification or processing of the harvested salt is tolerated, and the salt, when analyzed before distribution, must fulfill very high standards in chemical analytics.
At SaltWorks, we work hard to source the best specialty salts from all over the world. We ensure that the salts we offer are organic certified by their origin countries, where available. SaltWorks is proud to offer only premium quality, all-natural and organic compliant specialty salts.
How are the organic sea salt certifications defined?
One of the biggest differences between conventional and organic food production is the requirement for certification. Organic certifiers represent the consumer, and provide the guarantee that the food is grown to an acceptable organic production standard. Organic certification focuses on guaranteeing the quality of the production of that food by setting and verifying the standard for all farm inputs and the management of the operation. Consumers pay significant premiums for certified organic food because they trust the integrity of recognized organic trademarks. The two internationally recognized certification standards in New Zealand are BIO-GRO for organic farming and Demeter for bio-dynamic farming. Organic standards are benchmarked internationally by the IFOAM Basic Standards, the Codex Alimentarius Organic Guideline, and the EU Organic Regulation. Japan MAFF is currently implementing the Japan National Standard, and the USA National Organic Standard was released last December. There is increasing commonality and harmonization between these various international organic standards on such things as a definite no to GMOs, while still allowing for regional differences, e.g. livestock management. There are two aspects of organic certification: standards – the production rules, or what producers can and can’t do, and verification – the audit systems which verify that the producers are complying with the standards. The verification process requires the producers to document a full management plan, and record all inputs. Producers are audited twice in their first year with BIO-GRO, then at least annually after that. There is a three year conversion period from the start of organic practices till the first certified organic harvest. Products from the property can be labeled as “Conversion" during the second and third year of verification, and labeled as "Certified Organic" from 3 years on.
France's certification is awarded to harvested and processed salt according to Organic methods and standards. Nature et Progrés is the highest and most stringent level of certification allowed. The quality chart guarantees full traceability, including the origin. The producer is identified and regularly controlled by the independent certifying body. The salt is unrefined and all natural, and is harvested in a protected, non-polluted environment. The ponds are located a minimum of 500m away from main roads and are free from pesticides, chemical residue, industrial fumes or air pollution. Respect of product quality from harvest to final packaging is of utmost importance. The salt harvesters use only untreated wooden or polyethylene tools. It is mandatory that there is protection between the ground and the salt, and the salt must be harvested with non-polluting equipment.
Artisan Sel Gris, Fleur De Sel , Sel Gris Fine, Le Tresor Grey Sea Salt and Breton Grey Sea Salt are made exclusively with Nature et Progrés inspected and approved sea salts.
Nature et Progrès Specifications for unrefined sea salt:
A1 Geographic Origin and Environments
Salt ponds situated in nature reserve or nature park;
Without influence of big industrial plants (prevailing winds);
Minimal distance from main traffic lines: 500 meters;
Without risk of contamination through chemical fertilizers and
A1.3 Water circulation
Exclusively Atlantic waters;
Circulation depending only on gravity;
Circuit independent of fishponds;
A1.4 Maintenance of the salt ponds
Manual, mechanical and thermal maintenance out of production
period and out of breeding time of water birds
A2 Production Standards
A2.1 Working techniques
Traditional crafting & manual harvesting in salt ponds with
Natural water circulation and evaporation through sun and wind;
Washing and artificial drying are not allowed.
A2.2 Tools and materials
Wooden tools without chemical treatment;
No asbestos cement is allowed.
Light tools in stainless steel;
Aluminum shovels may be used temporarily.
Poly-ethylene (PE) is allowed for utensils.
Maintenance products for wooden and metal tools have to match
N&P organic environment standards.
A2.3 Transportation and stockholding
Open-air mounting within the working area;
Covering with PE or Ethyl-vinyl-acetate foil;
Separation between floor and salt;
Permanent cleansing of the stockholding premises,
especially before and after handling;
Use of low-emission transport machinery (gas or electric motor).
A3 Processing and Packaging
A3.1 Coarse Salt
Washing is not allowed.
Any processing that alters the product is forbidden.
Drying only through sun and wind;
Packing in big-bags, of PE or poly-propylene (PP);
Additives like iodine, magnesium, fluoride are not allowed.
A3.2 Fine Salt
Same as 3.1, additionally:
Grinding method may not alter the products quality.
A3.3 Aromatic Salt
Only allowed when certified organic herbs and vegetables are used.
A3.4 Other salt (e.g. for animals ...)
Admissible share of unsolvable substances: 10% max.
A3.5 Packaging material
Parafined cardboard (boxes);
Containers made of high-pressure-PE and PP;
Packs containing aluminum:
This may not be in direct touch with the salt.
A3.6 Humidity absorbers
Allowed are capsuled mineral or natural organic substances.
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