Beauty & The Beast: Regulation of Organic Personal Care Products

Articles
July 19, 2010

Beauty & The Beast: Regulation of Organic Personal Care Products

Dozens of personal care items are marketed as all-natural or organic – some even bearing the USDA Organic seal – yet there is little regulation of such claims and even fewer guidelines on documenting these products composition.

Dozens of personal care items are marketed as all-natural or organic – some even bearing the USDA Organic seal – yet there is little regulation of such claims and even fewer guidelines on documenting these products composition. Supermarkets, regulatory groups, associations and consumers are beginning to take aim at the rogue monikers and rallying to control misleading claims.
 
A plethora of personal care products on the market make organic claims without being certified to meet the USDA/NOP organic standards, or other recognized standards. These misleading practices are harmful to supermarkets to which consumers place their trust for selecting the best product choices for their families. Apart from the premiums charged for many of these products, the quality of ingredient standards consumers are expecting are often not what are found inside the package.
 
While the Organic Trade Association (OTA) does not provide a list of certified personal care products, buyers can search the group’s online database (www.theorganicpages.com), for the personal care product manufacturers to verify certification. The OTA is lobbying for mandatory public (federal government) regulation of organic labeling claims on personal care products, calling for third-party certification of personal care products making “organic” claims; strong mechanisms for compliance and enforcement; and removal of products from the market that have no organic content but make an organic claim. In the interim, the OTA is supporting third-party certification of organic claims using the current NOP standards for 95% organic content.
 
But these third party certifications can be even more confusing for consumers. In addition to the USDA Organic certification, manufactures can receive seals or approval from the Natural Products Association (NPA); QAI - Quality Assurance International (for organic processing); and BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetics (Germany’s prestigious Federation of German Industries and Trading Firms for Medicines, Natural Products, Food Supplements and Body Care).
 
The NPA’s Standard and Certification for Personal Care Products, which encompasses all cosmetic personal care products regulated and defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is based on natural ingredients, safety, responsibility and sustainability. Most important to the standards is that a product labeled "natural" should be made up of only, or at least 95 percent, natural ingredients and be manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity. Additionally, NPA requires that companies be transparent, fully disclosing their ingredients accurately and truthfully. They should strive to maximize their use of recyclable and post-consumer recycled content in packaging. And no animal testing of ingredients or products is allowed. Companies must also provide verifiable information regarding all company personal care products to confirm that 60% of the personal care products in that brand line meet the NPA Natural Standard requirements. Consumers and retailers can view certified products here.
 07/19/2010