Sign the Petition:
Search OCA:
Get Local!

Find Local News, Events & Green Businesses on OCA's State Pages:

OCA News Sections

Organic Consumers Association

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Files Lawsuit Against Major 'Organic' Cheater Brands

  • 4/28/2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     
CONTACT: Adam Eidinger Email: adam@drbronner.com

April 28, 2007    


Offending Companies Claim "Organic" or "Organics" on Labels But Main Cleansing Ingredients Are Based on Conventional Agricultural and/or Petrochemical Material


(read full brief here)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The family owned Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court today against numerous personal care brands to force them to stop making misleading organic labeling claims.  Dr. Bronner's and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) had warned offending brands that they faced litigation unless they committed to either drop their organic claims or reformulate away from main ingredients made from conventional agricultural and/or petrochemical material without any certified organic material. OCA has played the leading role in exposing and educating consumers about deceptive organic branding.

David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps says, "We have been deeply disappointed and frustrated by companies in the 'natural' personal care space who have been screwing over organic consumers, engaging in misleading organic branding and label call-outs, on products that were not natural in the first place, let alone organic." Dr. Bronner's has determined, based on extensive surveys, that organic consumers expect that cleansing ingredients in branded and labeled soaps, shampoos and body washes that are labeled Organic", "Organics" or "Made with Organic" will be from organic as distinct from conventional agricultural material, produced without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and free of petrochemical compounds.  

For example: The major cleansing ingredient in Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic" liquid soaps, body washes and shampoos is Sodium Myreth Sulfate, which involves ethoxylating a conventional non-organic fatty chain with the carcinogenic petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which produces caricinogenic 1,4-Dioxane as a contaminant.  The major cleansing ingredient in Avalon "Organics" soaps, bodywashes and shampoos, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, contains conventional non-organic agricultural material combined with the petrochemical Amdiopropyl Betaine.  Nature's Gate "Organics" main cleansers are Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate (ethoxylated) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  Kiss My Face "Obsessively Organic" cleansers are Olefin Sulfonate (a pure petrochemical) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  Juice "Organics", Giovanni "Organic Cosmetics", Head "Organics", Desert Essence "Organics", and Ikove "Organic" all use Cocamdiopropyl Betaine as a main cleansing ingredient and no cleansers made from certified organic material.  Due to the petrochemical compounds used to make the ingredient, Cocamidopropyl Betaine is contaminated with traces of Sodium monochloroacetate, Amidoamine (AA), and dimethylaminopropylamine(DMAPA).  Amidoamine in particular is suspected of causing skin sensitization and allergic reactions even at very low levels for certain individuals.  Organic consumers have a right to expect that the personal care products they purchase with organic branding or label claims, contain cleansing ingredients made from organic agricultural material, not conventional or petrochemical material, and thus have absolutely no petrochemical contaminants that could pose any concern.    

Dr. Bronner's products, in contrast to the brands noted above, contain cleansing and moisturizing ingredients made only from certified organic oils, made without any use of petrochemicals, and contain no petrochemical preservatives.  The misleading organic noise created by culprit companies' branding and labeling practices, interferes with organic consumers ability to distinguish personal care whose main ingredients are in fact made with certified organic, not conventional or petrochemical, material, free of synthetic preservatives.

Lawsuit Also Names Estee Lauder, Stella McCartney's CARE, Ecocert and OASIS

Ecocert is a French-based certifier with a standard that allows not only cleansing ingredients made from conventional versus organic agriculture, but also allows inclusion, in the cleansing ingredients contained in products labeled as ":Made with Organic" ingredients, of certain petrochemicals such as Amidopropyl Betaine in Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  Even worse, despite Ecocert's own regulations prohibiting the labeling as "Organic" of a product containing less than 100% organic content, Ecocert in practice engages in "creative misinterpretation" of its own rules in order to accommodate clients engaging in organic mislabeling. For instance, Ecocert certifies the Ikove brand's cleansing products to contain less than 50% organic content, noted in small text on the back of the product, where all cleansing ingredients are non-organic including Cocamidopropyl Betaine which contains petroleum compounds. Yet the product is labeled "Organic" Amazonian Avocado Bath & Shower Gel. Another instance is Stella McCartney's "100% Organic" CARE line certified by Ecocert that labels products as "100% Organic" that are not 100% Organic alongside ones that are; the labels of products that are not 100% organic simply insert the word "Active" before "Ingredients." In allowing such labeling, Ecocert simply ignores the requirements of its own certification standards. Furthermore, the primary organic content in most Ecocert certified products comes from "Flower Waters" in which  up to 80% of the "organic" content consists merely of just regular tap water that Ecocert counts as "organic."

Explicitly relying on the weak Ecocert standard as precedent, the new Organic and Sustainable Industry Standard ("OASIS")-a standard indeed developed exclusively by certain members of the industry, primarily Estee Lauder, with no consumer input-will permit certification of products outright as "Organic" (rather than as "Made with Organic" ingredients) even if such products contain hydrogenated and sulfated cleansing ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate made from conventional agricultural material grown with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and preserved with synthetic petrochemical preservatives such as Ethylhexylglycerin and Phenoxyethanol. [Reference: OASIS Standard section 6.2 and Anti-Microbial List] The organic content is required to only be 85%, which in water and detergent-based personal care products, means organic water extracts and aloe vera will greenwash conventional synthetic cleansing ingredients and preservatives.

The OASIS standard is not merely useless but deliberately misleading to organic consumers looking for a reliable indicator of true "organic" product integrity in personal care. Organic consumers expect that cleansing ingredients in products labeled "Organic" be made from organic not conventional agriculture, to not be hydrogenated or sulfated, and to be free from synthetic petrochemical preservatives. Surprisingly, companies represented on the OASIS board, such as Hain (Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic"; Avalon "Organics") and Cosway (Head "Organics",) produce liquid soap, bodywash and shampoo products with petrochemicals in their cleansers even though use of petrochemicals in this way is not permitted even under the very permissible OASIS standard these companies have themselves developed and endorsed.

Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the OCA, said:  "The pressure of imminent litigation outlined in cease and desist letters sent by OCA and Dr. Bronner's in March prompted some serious discussion with some of the offending companies, but ultimately failed to resolve the core issues."

### For more information or to arrange interviews please call Adam Eidinger email adam@drbronner.com .

For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website using keywords:

Cheryl in AZ
post Yesterday, 02:43 PM



Avalon "Organics" has a history of fraud (like counting water as 70% organic) so I avoid them. Jason's suprised me because I used their Powersmile toothpaste and hope at least that is truthful in their labeling.

Nature's Gate used to make a much better shampoo and conditioner. Then they changed their packaging and ingredients, and I immediately noticed a different smell and of course, the products did not work as well. When I looked at the label, they took out a lot of the natural ingredients or changed the amount of them to less, and added more chemicals. I was so angry. They do this to save money but then still charge the consumer the higher price. I will pay the higher price for real organics but not for a bunch of toxic chemicals to make me sick.

Another one I want to add to your watch list is a company called Riviera Brands, LLC out of Deefield, IL. They make a product line that is heavily advertised in retailers such as Walgreen's called BioInfusion. Well, I bought the "eucalyptus & lavender strengthen & repaid conditioner" recently because it says in big letters "Organics". So, the BioInfusion Organics are supposed to have at least some organic ingredients right? Well, apparently not. I nearly passed out in the shower (I have chemical sensitives) and when I looked at the label (forgot to when I purchased it in a hurry) I did not see even ONE organic ingredient listed. It seems to have some natural things but nothing organic. So how does the company get away with labeling it "Organics"? I tried googling the company to get contact info and could not really find much on them.

I do use Dr. Bronner's liquid and bar soaps and find it frustrating that there isn't truth in advertising for all companies, which I think should be illegal. Consumers should be able to file suit and class actions against any company falsely advertising, but I guess when the FDA and other such agencies help the toxins industries legally lie to us, it makes it pretty difficult to have recourse.

Organic Mind
post Yesterday, 06:56 PM


Dr. Bronner does not display all ingredients in his products labeled as made with organics. They use sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide in order to saponify its organic oils, but they don't disclose these ingredients in the labels. Solid sodium hydroxide or solutions containing high concentrations of sodium hydroxide may cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring, and blindness. Also, it can caude brain and nervous system effects at very low doses. By EWG Sodium hydroxide causes skin irritation at very low doses and is responsible for high number of occupacional hazards.

Check EWG website to know more about sodium hydroxide, a cancer-causing ingredient. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredien...ingred06=706075

Dissolution of sodium hydroxide is highly exothermic, and the resulting heat may cause heat burns or ignite flammables. Sodium Hydroxide is extremely caustic, and can react with fats and oils on skin, in a reaction which creates salts. For this reason, sodium hydroxide is very dangerous, and skin should be washed thoroughly with water following contact with this substance.

Does a reasonable organic consumer expects a organic soap to be made with such dangerous and not earth friendly ingredient. Also, the Dr. Bronner Sal Sudz liquid cleanser is made with SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE. And guess what??? Dr. Bronner does not disclose the ingredients of this product in his website. Check it out:
http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/SSLI16/SalSu...quidCleaner.htm

Dr. Bronner is trying to market his new line, but this company is not at a position to dictate what is an organic personal care...

VAinWI
post Yesterday, 09:48 PM


Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is used to make soap. When lye (sodium hydroxide) is mixed with water and oil, it DOES cause an exothermic reaction, and can cause severe burns. Direct contact with lye can also cause severe chemical burns to the skin. When lye is mixed with oil and water and causes that exothermic reaction, it's also undergoing a chemical change, transforming the 3 components into soap. This change takes place during the manufacturing process and is not a danger to the consumer, any more than is the bar of soap in your bathroom.

On a side note, if you ever do come in direct contact with sodium hydroxide, distilled vinegar will neutralize it. I don't suggest the sole use of water, since your skin will continue to burn until the lye has been neutralized.

Sal Sudz (sic) is not a personal care product, it is an all-purpose, hard-surface, detergent based cleaner. As such, it is not subject to the same labeling requirements as personal care products. SLS is a surfectant derived from coconut oil. There is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Bronner's is attempting to mislead the public or hide harmful ingredients.

A much more prevalent contaminant is DHMO, Dihydrogen Monoxide. You can find it's MSDS here: http://www.dhmo.org/msdsdhmo.html. DHMO is a colorless and odorless chemical compound and causes thousands of deaths each year, mostly of children. It's found in everything, from baby and junk foods and personal care products to oven cleaner and fire retardants. It contributes to the Greenhouse Effect and is thought to play a role in the formation of cancers. Roughly 86% of the population supports a ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide but the government refuses to acknowledge it as a threat. Do your own research, but I think DHMO is much more dangerous than Dr. Bronner's soaps.

PancreaticCancer
post Yesterday, 10:12 PM


WOw this is very interesting I was using Dr. Bronner soaps, lotion etc.. around that time I also had stroke like events. Went through many tests and such, I wonder if this was brought on buy the components used in the soaps. I also thought I was having a reaction to an omega 3 fish sup. I was trying to find a place to have it tested. But now I wonder, did experience neuro toxicity to Dr.Bronner's products.

VAinWI
post Yesterday, 10:41 PM


QUOTE (PancreaticCancer @ Apr 28 2008, 10:12 PM) *
WOw this is very interesting I was using Dr. Bronner soaps, lotion etc.. around that time I also had stroke like events. Went through many tests and such, I wonder if this was brought on buy the components used in the soaps. I also thought I was having a reaction to an omega 3 fish sup. I was trying to find a place to have it tested. But now I wonder, did experience neuro toxicity to Dr.Bronner's products.


Not likely. It was more likely caused by DHMO. Again, do your own research, but I've experienced nausea, excessive sweating and urination and electrolyte imbalance as result of overexposure to DHMO. My doctor said there wasn't anything I could do about it other than to limit my exposure. That stuff is a hazard and it's EVERYWHERE!

ladycat
post Today, 12:01 AM


QUOTE (PancreaticCancer @ Apr 28 2008, 10:12 PM) *
WOw this is very interesting I was using Dr. Bronner soaps, lotion etc.. around that time I also had stroke like events. Went through many tests and such, I wonder if this was brought on buy the components used in the soaps. I also thought I was having a reaction to an omega 3 fish sup. I was trying to find a place to have it tested. But now I wonder, did experience neuro toxicity to Dr.Bronner's products.

Highly unlikely that Dr. Bronner's caused the problem.

This argument about lye is getting old. People who use that argument to slam Dr. Bronner's are ignorant of how soap is made and how the chemical reactions occur.


--------------------
►►► Join the discussion at Texoma Green Group◄◄◄
►►►Free CD, DVD or Game from Barter Bee◄◄◄
►►►Come join us at A Fabulously Fun FRIENDLY Christian Forum◄◄◄

drk
post Today, 03:01 AM


QUOTE (VAinWI @ Apr 29 2008, 01:48 AM) *
Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is used to make soap. When lye (sodium hydroxide) is mixed with water and oil, it DOES cause an exothermic reaction, and can cause severe burns. Direct contact with lye can also cause severe chemical burns to the skin. When lye is mixed with oil and water and causes that exothermic reaction, it's also undergoing a chemical change, transforming the 3 components into soap. This change takes place during the manufacturing process and is not a danger to the consumer, any more than is the bar of soap in your bathroom.

On a side note, if you ever do come in direct contact with sodium hydroxide, distilled vinegar will neutralize it. I don't suggest the sole use of water, since your skin will continue to burn until the lye has been neutralized.

Sal Sudz (sic) is not a personal care product, it is an all-purpose, hard-surface, detergent based cleaner. As such, it is not subject to the same labeling requirements as personal care products. SLS is a surfectant derived from coconut oil. There is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Bronner's is attempting to mislead the public or hide harmful ingredients.

A much more prevalent contaminant is DHMO, Dihydrogen Monoxide. You can find it's MSDS here: http://www.dhmo.org/msdsdhmo.html. DHMO is a colorless and odorless chemical compound and causes thousands of deaths each year, mostly of children. It's found in everything, from baby and junk foods and personal care products to oven cleaner and fire retardants. It contributes to the Greenhouse Effect and is thought to play a role in the formation of cancers. Roughly 86% of the population supports a ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide but the government refuses to acknowledge it as a threat. Do your own research, but I think DHMO is much more dangerous than Dr. Bronner's soaps.


drk
post Today, 03:04 AM


QUOTE (VAinWI @ Apr 29 2008, 02:41 AM) *
Not likely. It was more likely caused by DHMO. Again, do your own research, but I've experienced nausea, excessive sweating and urination and electrolyte imbalance as result of overexposure to DHMO. My doctor said there wasn't anything I could do about it other than to limit my exposure. That stuff is a hazard and it's EVERYWHERE!

Yes....that DHMO is incredibly dangerous.....it is...water......

Theresa
post Today, 06:56 AM


Thank you Organic Mind and VAinWI for both your comments about Dr. Bronner use of sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide and sodium lauryl sulfate.

My experience with Dr. Bronner is as follows. My daughter uses Dr. Bronner for shower and the first (and last) time I used the Bronner soap during one of my visits. While lathering up I immediately experienced the most awful & painful burning in my private area - even after repeated splashing ice cold water in that area for half-an-hour. I felt a lessor burning sensitivity for an additional 2 days.

Normally, I'm tough-skinned. But I will NEVER use Dr. Bronner soaps for anything again.

Thanks again for the info!


VAinWI
post Today, 07:51 AM


QUOTE (Theresa @ Apr 29 2008, 06:56 AM) *
My experience with Dr. Bronner is as follows. My daughter uses Dr. Bronner for shower and the first (and last) time I used the Bronner soap during one of my visits. While lathering up I immediately experienced the most awful & painful burning in my private area - even after repeated splashing ice cold water in that area for half-an-hour. I felt a lessor burning sensitivity for an additional 2 days.

Normally, I'm tough-skinned. But I will NEVER use Dr. Bronner soaps for anything again.

Thanks again for the info!


Did you, by chance, use the peppermint soap?

VA

Organic Mind
post Today, 08:01 AM


Thank you Theresa for sharing your experience with the high pH products from Dr. Bronner. I am really disgusted with this harassment lawsuit against good companies. All personal care products need some kind of chemical ingredients to make it work properly. Even the Organic Magic Soap of Dr. Bronner uses such "bad" ingredients like Potassium hydroxide and Sodium hydroxide (skin irritant, cancer-causing, high occupational hazards, and the list goes on and on...). So why is he going in this harassing lawsuit direction without even trying to discuss this subject in the proper forum.

Even USDA pronounced that their standards are not applicable for personal care products. Check it out: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dD...STELPRDC5068442

Maybe David Bronner decided to drink some of his "magic soap" and wake up feeling he is the new Secretary of Agriculture. Dr. Bronner is not in a position to dictate what organic personal care is. He prepared this very self-serving survey to try to defend his point of view. His products are not better than the ones that he is attacking. He uses chemical ingredients and what is worse he hides this information from the public. He follows food grade standards and he believes that?s the way to go? But I can assure that USDA allowed the use of some chemical ingredients with no intention to certify soaps, but foods. We need specific standards for personal care cosmetics and we support Ecocert and OASIS in their intention to bring to consumers a specific set of rules for these products.

Organic Mind
post Today, 08:06 AM


Thank you Theresa for sharing your experience with the high pH products from Dr. Bronner. I am really disgusted with this harassment lawsuit against good companies. All personal care products need some kind of chemical ingredients to make it work properly. Even the Organic Magic Soap of Dr. Bronner uses such "bad" ingredients like Potassium hydroxide and Sodium hydroxide (skin irritant, cancer-causing, high occupational hazards, and the list goes on and on...). So why is he going in this harassing lawsuit direction without even trying to discuss this subject in the proper forum.

Even USDA pronounced that their standards are not applicable for personal care products. Check it out: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dD...STELPRDC5068442

Maybe David Bronner decided to drink some of his "magic soap" and wake up feeling he is the new Secretary of Agriculture. Dr. Bronner is not in a position to dictate what organic personal care is. He prepared this very self-serving survey to try to defend his point of view. His products are not better than the ones that he is attacking. He uses chemical ingredients and what is worse he hides this information from the public. He follows food grade standards and he believes that�s the way to go� But I can assure that USDA allowed the use of some chemical ingredients with no intention to certify soaps, but foods. We need specific standards for personal care cosmetics and we support Ecocert and OASIS in their intention to bring to consumers a specific set of rules for these products.

Sound Earth
post Today, 08:45 AM


There is an abundance of misinformation when it comes to body care product and cleaning product labeling. There is no meaningful regulation when it comes to labeling. Ingredients in cleaning products for example, including toxic ones, can be grouped together as "inert ingredients" providing they do not have anything to do with the actual cleaning. My suggestion is to check out the Natural Ingredient Resource Center: http://www.naturalingredient.org/
The site is a bit rudimentary, however, it lists many small companies that take disclosure very seriously.
Ann LaGoy, soundearth.com

Richie
post Today, 12:17 PM


I think this is a very good conversation and believe that it highlights many of the problems we have in trying to make positive change and positive decisions. For those of you concerned about the use of lye in your soap, I agree that the sodium hydroxide is neutralized during the process and is not of much concern to the end user. As a soap maker, it can be very dangerous. One member suggested washing this off with water which is not a very good idea as water does not neutralize the burning. If you are opposed to lye, try glycerin based soaps (which I dont know much about but do believe they are a rather "cheap" product.
It seems to me that the point here is that, as consumers, we WILL be misled. People naturally tend to use language to their advantage, omitting what you and I may consider integral information while dressing up those things which will equate to a larger return on their products. Ultimately, people in all walks of life use information to exploit others, right? Have you ever questioned how you yourself does the same thing?
I suggest that if you are truely concerned for your health and the health of our planet, make educated decisions...educate yourself and dont take things at face value.