Panic! These Products Aren't Organic!


#237, August 12, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


In this issue:

The Coming Clean Campaign for Organic Integrity in the Health and Beauty Care Aisle

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Coming Clean

The Coming Clean Campaign for Organic Integrity in the Health and Beauty Care Aisle

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government doesn't regulate cosmetics and body care products for safety, long-term health impacts or environmental damage. Many synthetic chemicals and petroleum-based ingredients found in non-organic certified brands are harmful to people and the environment.

Consumers can avoid toxic ingredients by using USDA certified Organic Body Care and Cosmetics. The trouble is, while the USDA allows cosmetics and body care products meeting National Organic Program food and agricultural standards to be certified organic, it doesn't police the rampant labeling fraud in the industry, where many brands make organic claims on their front label, but in fact are neither organic nor certified.

That's why, as this Story of Stuff Project video, The Story of Cosmetics, points out: "On cosmetics labels, words like 'herbal,' 'natural,' even 'organic', have no legal definition. That means that anybody can put anything in a bottle and call it 'natural.' And they do!"


Coming Clean

Top 10 Reasons to Use Organic Body Care and Cosmetics

Non-Organic Body Care and Cosmetics...

10. Fuel Oil Addiction

9. Spawn Super Bugs

8. Unleash Biocides

7. Contaminate Water

6. Make Us Fat

5. Speed Up Puberty

4. Increase Infertility

3. Cause Birth Defects

2. Give Us Cancer

1. Aren't Regulated


Coming Clean

Panic! This Product Is Not Organic!

Tired of companies and retailers selling body care products as Organic when they are not really Organic? Take matters into your own hands:

Download OCA's Panic! This Product Is Not Organic! stickers here. (This PDF is set up to print 30 stickers on a sheet of Avery 48160 address labels.)

Our three primary targets of the month are:

* Avalon Organics

* Nature's Gate Organics

* Giovanni's Organic

Don't bother to sticker these "bogus organic" body care products in Whole Foods Markets. Whole Foods, in response to OCA's Coming Clean Campaign, has agreed to ban and remove all mislabeled "organic" body care products from their stores by June of 2011.

Find out which local stores have Organic Body Care and Cosmetics Integrity Policies


Coming Clean

Tell USDA to Stop Organic Fraud!

A growing number of products such as liquid soaps, body washes, facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, and make-up are advertised, labeled and marketed as "organic" or "organics" when, in fact, these products are not "organic" as generally understood by health and environmentally-concerned consumers.

The widespread and blatantly deceptive labeling practices of leading "organic" personal care brands violate the federal organic law.

In 2009, the USDA National Organic Standards Board passed a recommendation for "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care Products." The recommendation urges the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to 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.

Currently, as the recommendation describes, "at a given retailer, one may find personal care products such as shampoos and lotions labeled as 'organic' with no clear standards or regulatory underpinning for the organic claim - and unless the product is specifically labeled as 'USDA Organic,' the word 'organic' may be used with impunity. Manufacturers of personal care products that contain organic ingredients are hindered by a thicket of competing private standards and confusion regarding the applicability of the NOP to their products. Transactions lack the regulatory clarity that applies under the NOP to food products that contain organic ingredients."

Please send a letter urging the USDA NOP to enforce the current agricultural standards in personal care, like they do when conventional foods are mislabeled as organic.


Coming Clean

Ask Stores to Adopt Organic Body Care and Cosmetics Integrity Policies

The Coming Clean Campaign is encouraging retailers to take action to address widespread organic labeling fraud in their health and beauty care aisles.

Many brands make organic claims on products whose main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are composed in significant part of petrochemicals.

In June 2010, Whole Foods Market took a bold and meaningful step on behalf of organic integrity when it adopted a new requirement for its suppliers that will force major organic cheater brands to drop their bogus organic claims.

Whole Foods Market's policy on the organic labeling of personal care products states:

"We believe that the 'organic' claim used on personal care products should have a very similar meaning to the 'organic' claim used on food products, which is currently regulated by the USDA's National Organic Program. Our shoppers do not expect the definition of 'organic' to change substantially between the food and the non-food aisles of our stores."

Whole Foods' new policy mandates that "Organic" or "Made with Organic Ingredients " claims must be certified under the USDA National Organic Program, just like food. A more limited "Contains Organic Ingredients" claim for personal care may be certified under the NSF ANSI 305 standard. Organic claims that are not certified, including "Organics" in branding, will not be allowed.

Brands were required to meet an August 1, 2010 deadline to explain how they would change their labeling or formulations to comply with the new standard. They have until June 2011 to be in full compliance. Brands that did not submit a plan to come clean are expected to be dropped from store shelves.

Retailers selling non-certified "organic" cosmetics face a choice. They can follow Whole Foods' lead and require truthful labels, or they can continue to enable organic fraud. Consumers will look unfavorably on retailers that duck responsibility and continue to profit from the organic cheater brands that rip off their customers.

What will your store do?


Ask retailers to adopt Organic Body Care and Cosmetics Integrity Policies!

Find out which local stores have Organic Body Care and Cosmetics Integrity Policies


Coming Clean

Boycott the Fake Organic Brands

The following brands market their products as "organic," but they don't have enough organic ingredients to be USDA certified, and they use ingredients that would never be allowed in USDA certified products:

Take matters into your own hands!

Learn more about buying Certified Organic Body Care and Cosmetics



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