Certified Organic Personal Care Recommended

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In September, the cause of extending organic certification standards to personal care items—soaps, lotions, and the like—got a significant boost from the Certification, Accreditation, and Compliance Committee of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The Committee recommended that the National Organic Program regulate personal care products.

Presently, only food products are officially regulated, whereas organic labeling of personal care items is voluntary. Advocates and critics, including Dr. Bronner’s (drbronner.com) and the Organic Consumers Association (organicconsumers.org), charge that the result is deceptive labeling, with no certification for personal care products labeled “organic” that have only minute amounts of organic ingredients. The organic program overseers, the USDA and current Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, oppose organic oversight of personal care products. But organic advocates say they are asking not for new standards but for the extension of existing regulation of certified organic agricultural products.

Dr. Bronner’s is pursuing legal complaints against numerous personal care companies that use nonorganic, pesticide-intensive agricultural and/or petrochemical material for cleansing and moisturizing ingredients. The OCA lobbied at some of these companies’ booths at a recent national trade show, and is threatening a boycott of personal care companies that do not move to certifiy organic ingredients.

The next public meeting of the NOSB will be held in early November, and organic standards for personal care items is expected to be on the agenda.

See other articles from this issue: #145 November - December - 2009