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OCA Goes After Organic Fraud at Natural Products ExpoEast

  • Cleaning Up the ‘Organic’ Soap Biz
    Regulations lacking
    By Christine McConville
    The Boston Herald, September 25, 2009
    Straight to the Source


OCA Editors' Note:
Take action! This November, the USDA National Organic Standards Board's will consider a recommendation, "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care," that would make sure that any use of the word "organic" on a personal care product is backed up by third-party certification to USDA organic standards.
BUY USDA ORGANIC!
Learn more.
CONSUMER PROTECTION: Alexis...

The organic food industry is regulated by the federal government, but when it comes to shampoo, soaps and makeup, manufacturers often falsely promote products as all natural or pesticide- and chemical-free, according to Alexis Baden-Mayer of the Organic Consumers Association.

As a result, some so-called organic products contain petrochemicals, carcinogens and other ingredients that are harmful to human health, she said.

"Look, right here, it says 'organic,' in big, big letters," said Baden-Mayer, as she wandered past the rows of pomegranate-scented body oils and fennel-flavored mouthwash.

Yesterday was the start of the three-day, Natural Products Expo East, and Baden-Mayer was scouting the exhibitors' booths at the Boston Convention & Exposition Center, looking for false claims on body-care products.

"It's not fair to the consumers who pay a premium for what they believe are safe products," Baden-Mayer said. "Other people buy organic products for their environmental benefits, the benefits to small farmers and because of animal welfare issues."

As the industry booms, and consumer awareness grows, the Organic Consumers Association and other groups have been pushing the federal government to adopt labeling standards for personal care products.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps has sued soap makers that use non-organic pesticide-intensive agricultural and petrochemical materials in their so-called organic products.

Also, natural foods grocery chain Whole Foods will begin testing "organic" and "natural" personal-care products for 1,4 Dioxane, a probable carcinogen found in many moisturizers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's organics standards board will meet to discuss adopting mandatory guidelines in November.

Between now and then, Baden-Mayer will compile her list of cheaters, and then ask the companies to either change their manufacturing processes or rewrite their labels.

If they don't agree to make those changes, the group will launch a consumer boycott of the products, she said. 


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