Due to confusion and lack of federal oversight of the cosmetics industry, there are companies that use the term “organic” in their product names primarily as a marketing tool. Cosmetic brands that contain agricultural ingredients but use “organic” in their product names without meeting USDA standards are committing what the Organic Consumer Association calls organic cosmetic fraud. The Association is a non-profit organization “campaigning for health, justice and sustainability.” It advocates for more accurate labeling and works to expose companies that use illegitimate “organic” claims. Based on its analyses, the Association has developed a list of companies that violate USDA’s organic standards and a list of recommended USDA-certified organic products.
When it comes to “organic” claims, here are the facts:
If a company is selling a product that does contain agricultural ingredients and wants to label it organic, it must abide by these rules under USDA’s National Organic Program:
As part of its efforts, the Association launched the Coming Clean Campaign to promote Organic Cosmetics Integrity Policies in retail stores. These policies hold that:
In June 2011, the Whole Foods Market chain adopted an Organic Cosmetics Integrity Policy that prohibits its stores from selling products that make organic claims without the appropriate certification. Whole Foods says that violators that do not rephrase or reformulate inaccurate product names will be dropped from its shelves.
Ultimately, consumers looking to purchase genuinely organic cosmetics, body care or personal care products should familiarize themselves with USDA standards and keep a close eye on product labels! And be sure to check out how the product rates on Skin Deep!
For more information, please visit the Environmental Working Group’s Website.