ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The announcement that NSF International, a U.S. testing and certification organization, was developing an American standard for “natural” personal care products quickly drew criticism last week from the Natural Products Association.
NSF has partnered with NATRUE, the Brussels-based International Natural and Organic Cosmetic Association, to develop what it is calling the first American national standard for natural personal care products.
The Washington-based NPA contends that its certification program, Natural Standard for Personal Care Products, which came out in 2008 with the NPA Natural Seal, is the U.S. standard, and that any other certification programs will only cause confusion in the marketplace.
“As NPA and NATRUE had multiple discussions on mutual recognition of our standards, NATRUE and NSF no doubt know that the United States already has a successful natural standard, and any standard they developed could not be called the ‘first,’” said John Gay, NPA executive director and chief executive officer, in a press statement.
As of the end of 2010, NPA announced it had certified its 500th product under its Natural Seal.
However, NSF claims the difference in standards is in having a nonpartisan organization, not a trade association, develop the standard according to requirements set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. NSF is accredited by ANSI to develop standards using a consensus-based process that involves balanced representation of interested stakeholders. NSF is calling it the “first” such standard because of ANSI guidelines.
It remains to be seen how retailers embrace such a standard. Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, is giving its suppliers until June to comply with a U.S. Department of Agriculture certification on “organic” claims for personal care and cosmetics, and all labels with the “made with organic ingredients” statement must be certified by NSF. Last year NSF introduced a standard (NSF/ANSI 305) for personal care products containing organic ingredients.
PCC Natural Markets in Seattle was not immediately available for comment, but in 2009 it endorsed the NPA's natural standard and asked suppliers to comply.
NSF will hold its first stakeholder meeting to discuss the new natural standard on March 10 at the Natural Products Expo West.