SURVEY INDICATES CONSUMERS ARE CONFUSED ABOUT
ORGANIC PERSONAL CARE PRODUCT LABELING

The Organic Consumers Association implemented an expansive consumer survey in 2007. The survey results indicate consumers are widely confused by current labeling techniques used by most popular organic personal care products.

WHO TOOK THE SURVEY?
The survey was sculpted with the assistance of organic industry experts, including organic personal care product manufacturers, organic certifiers, and consumer rights protection advocates. The 19 question survey, was taken by more than 5,500 consumers who regularly purchase organic products. The participants of the survey represent shoppers who go out of their way for organic products. 74% of survey respondents say that most or "a good portion" of their personal care products contain organic ingredients.

CONSUMERS MISUNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF "MADE WITH ORGANIC"
Nearly half of the survey respondents incorrectly believe that a product labeled as "Made with organic ingredients" is either "all" or "nearly all" organic ingredients. In reality, there are no federal regulations requiring personal care products labeled as "Made with organic ingredients" to contain any particular level of organic ingredients, and most personal care products using this label are made up of 70% or fewer organic ingredients.

CONSUMERS MISUNDERSTAND WHAT "CERTIFIED" MEANS
Surprisingly, only 16% of survey respondents were aware that a personal care product with the "USDA Certified Organic" seal on its label is very likely more organic than a product that only lists a certifying agency. In the actual marketplace, more than 95% of personal care products are not organic enough to meet the criteria required to use the USDA organic seal, and these products, which often contain multiple conventional synthetic ingredients, simply list a certifying agency for the organic ingredients contained in the product. According to this survey, consumers are confused by the listing of the certifying agency or wording such as "contains certified organic ingredients" and falsely assume it means the whole product is organic.

CONSUMERS HAVE STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS
Although most personal care products with organic labeling contain some mix of synthetic ingredients, 60% of survey respondents indicated that even products labeled as "70% organic" should not contain synthetic ingredients and 30% said synthetics should only be allowed only if they are manufactured from organically derived sources. This percentage may be tempered when compared to the fact that 55% of respondents didn't know some synthetic ingredients are currently allowed under the USDA National Organic Program for food products. The organic personal care survey also found that 67% of organic consumers believe that a personal care product that is allowed to contain new additional synthetic ingredients in the "made with" category, should require front paneling labeling stating: "This Product Also Contains Synthetic Ingredients".

CONSUMERS THINK PRODUCTS WITH THE WORD "ORGANIC" IN THE BRAND NAME SHOULD REALLY BE ORGANIC
An overwhelming 98.6% of organic personal care survey respondents believe that a product with a derivation of the word "organic" in its brand name should either be 100% organic, or, at the very least, should NOT contain synthetic detergents and preservative ingredients that are not currently allowed under the NOP.

The full survey results are below:

 

1. To what degree do you purchase organic food products?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Most of my food has organic ingredients.
65.2%3626
  A good portion of my food has organic ingredients, but it's probably less than half.
25.4%1410
  Very few of my food products have organic ingredients, but I use those regularly.
5.3%295
  Occasionally I purchase a food product with organic ingredients but not regularly.
3.6%199
  I've never purchased a food product with organic ingredients.
0.2%9
  Not sure.
0.4%20
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
2. Do you currently use any personal care products (e.g. shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc.) that contain organic ingredients?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Most of my personal care products have organic ingredients.
45.2%2514
  A good portion of my personal care products have organic ingredients, but it's probably less than half)
28.3%1571
  Very few of my personal care products have organic ingredients, but I use those regularly.
11.9%663
  Occasionally I purchase a personal care product with organic ingredients but not regularly.
10.6%590
  I've never purchased a personal care product with organic ingredients.
1.7%95
  Not sure.
2.3%126
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
3. All "organic" labeling of products in the U.S. is regulated by the government.
 Response PercentResponse Total
  True
10.7%593
  False
61.5%3421
  Not sure
27.8%1545
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
4. If you saw a food product labeled as "Made with Organic Ingredients", what portion of organic ingredients would you expect in that product?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  All of it.
27.9%1549
  Nearly all of it.
24%1336
  At least half of it.
18.7%1038
  Less than half of it.
19.6%1087
  Not sure.
9.9%549
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
5. If you saw a personal care product labeled as "Made with Organic Ingredients", what portion of organic ingredients would you expect in that product?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  All of it.
25.1%1395
  Nearly all of it.
23.5%1308
  At least half of it.
16.8%932
  Less than half of it.
23.5%1308
  Not sure.
11.1%616
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
6. If all you knew about "Product A" is that it is certified organic and all you knew about "Product B" is that it has the USDA Organic seal, which product would you think is more organic?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Product A
50.2%2791
  Product B
16.3%905
  They'd be the same
16%892
  Not sure.
17.5%971
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
7. Are you aware that the USDA national organic standards allow the use of certain synthetic ingredients and processing aids in minor amounts in food products that are considered "necessary" for food production (example: ethylene--used to ripen tropical fruit)?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Yes, I knew that.
45.4%2524
  No, I didn't know that.
54.6%3035
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
8. The current list of allowed synthetic ingredients under the national organic standards was developed specifically for food products. There are some personal care companies (e.g. lotion, lip balm, etc.) that are currently meeting those food-grade standards and claim no new synthetics should be allowed. But there are some personal care companies that claim certain types of products can't be made without additional synthetic ingredients (example: nearly all sunscreens currently rely on zinc oxide to block the sun, which is a synthetic ingredient). Should personal care companies get to add more allowable synthetic ingredients to that list for the non-organic portion of their products that are labeled "70% Organic"?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Yes.
8.4%465
  No.
23.8%1324
  I don't believe there should be a list of allowed synthetics for products containing organic ingredients in the first place.
55.5%3085
  Not sure.
12.3%685
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
9. Which of the following type of product do you believe synthetic detergents should be allowed in (note: Shampoos typically use one of three different types of "cleansers": detergents, soaps or natural plant saponins. Each of these "cleans" the hair in a different way. The majority of mainstream non-organic shampoos on the market are currently detergent based. Some argue that if a product claims to be natural and organic, the detergents should be replaced with soaps or natural plant saponins. Others argue that a product will function very differently without the synthetic detergent, thereby making it function differently from what a consumer may expect.):
 Response PercentResponse Total
  a) Personal care products that are labeled as being totally organic should be allowed to contain synthetic detergents.
1%54
  b) Personal care products that are labeled as being at least 70% organic should be allowed to contain synthetic detergents.
28.9%1606
  c) Neither a) or b)
62.3%3463
  d) Not sure.
7.8%436
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
10. Which of the following type of product do you believe synthetic preservatives should be allowed in (note: the majority of mainstream non-organic personal care products on the market contain synthetic preservatives. Some argue that if a product claims to be natural and organic, these synthetic preservatives should not be allowed as the National Organic Program does not allow synthetic preservatives and there are natural preservatives and methods of bottling a product to provide a limited shelf life without synthetics. Others argue that removing synthetic preservatives from personal care products would result in a shortened shelf-life and possible microbial contamination, thereby requiring some personal care products to be refrigerated or labeled with an expiration date):
 Response PercentResponse Total
  a) Personal care products that are labeled as being totally organic should be allowed to contain synthetic preservatives.
1.1%61
  b) Personal care products that are labeled as being at least 70% organic should be allowed to contain synthetic preservatives.
31%1724
  c) Neither a) or b)
60.2%3346
  d) Not sure.
7.7%428
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
11. If a personal care product has the word "organic" or "organics" on its label, claims to be made of 70% organic material and also contains synthetic ingredients that are not currently allowed under the USDA National Organic Program, the following should be required:
 Response PercentResponse Total
  a) Synthetic chemical ingredients should not be permitted in these products.
23.6%1310
  b) The product should carry a note on its front panel saying "This Product Also Contains Synthetic Ingredients".
26.9%1497
  c) The synthetic ingredients should be made from organic materials (example: if a synthetic detergent can be made out of organic corn, it should be required).
6.1%337
  d) Both b) and c)
40.3%2242
  e) Not sure.
3.1%173
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
12. Some ingredients in personal care products can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the hair follicles and/or through the skin:
 Response PercentResponse Total
  True
92%5113
  False
0.6%31
  Not sure.
7.5%415
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
13. If a personal care company uses the word "Organic" or "Organics" in their company name (example: "Bob's Organics"), how should the laws apply to their products?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Their products should be 100% organic.
64.3%3576
  Their products should contain a significant portion of organic ingredients and should not contain synthetic detergents or preservatives.
32.3%1793
  Their products should contain some organic ingredients, and it doesn't matter if the other ingredients are synthetic detergents and preservatives.
1%57
  Not sure.
2.4%133
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
14. If you see the name of the certifying agent on the label of a personal care product labeled "organic," what should you expect from that product?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Their products should be 100% organic.
76%4223
  Their products should contain a significant portion of organic ingredients and should not contain synthetic detergents or preservatives.
21.3%1184
  Their products should contain some organic ingredients, and it doesn't matter if the other ingredients are synthetic detergents and preservatives.
0.7%39
  Not sure.
2%113
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
15. When purchasing a personal care product with the word "organic" on the front label, how frequently do you read the full ingredient panel on the back before choosing to purchase that particular product?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Always
50.2%2792
  Most of the time
31.8%1765
  Half the time
9.6%533
  Rarely
7.4%413
  Never
1%56
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
16. How often do you look for the "USDA Organic" seal on a product that claims to be organic?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Always
25.6%1424
  Most of the time
27.6%1537
  Half the time
10%556
  Rarely
22.5%1252
  Never
14.2%790
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
17. How often do you look for some statement of "certification" on a product that claims to be organic?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Always
43.2%2404
  Most of the time
31.8%1767
  Half the time
8.5%474
  Rarely
11.9%663
  Never
4.5%251
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
18. Personal care products that do not advertise themselves as "100% Organic" but contain at least 70% organic ingredients should be allowed to contain synthetic detergents and preservatives if:
 Response PercentResponse Total
  a) The detergents/preservatives are made from organic agricultural material.
41.3%2297
  b) The detergents/preservatives are made from non-organic agricultural material.
4.7%260
  c) The detergents/preservatives are made with petroleum compounds.
0.6%36
  d) Synthetic detergents/preservatives should not be allowed.
34.9%1942
  e) Not sure.
18.4%1024
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0
19. If you answered (a) above, (i.e. that a synthetic detergent or preservative should only be allowed if it could be made by processing organic source materials) should that same synthetic detergent or preservative be allowed if the source organic materials were not commercially available, thereby requiring the use of non-organic source materials?
 Response PercentResponse Total
  Yes
6.1%339
  No
30.3%1684
  I didn't answer (a) above.
49.6%2756
  Not sure.
14%780
Total Respondents  5559
(skipped this question)  0