IT'S BEEN MORE THAN A MONTH since the Organic Consumers Association and several personal care companies sought clarification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about organic labeling, but they're still waiting to hear back, Honor Schauland, spokeswoman for the OCA, Finland, Minn., told SN.
Named in the document are 11 personal care companies whose products include the word organic, though none comply with the USDA's National Organic Program requirements for certification, according to the complaint.
Use of the word organic on food products is regulated by the government, but that's not the case with personal care products.
The Food and Drug Administration does not define or regulate the term organic as it applies to cosmetics, body care or similar products. But if made up of agricultural ingredients, personal care products meeting USDA NOP standards may be eligible for one of four organic certifications.
The OCA contends that organic claims on personal care products that have not been certified as such are misleading.
“It's not exactly regulated, but not exactly legal either,” said Schauland. “We want the National Organic Program to clarify that.”
Last November, the National Organic Standards Board recommended that the USDA NOP enforce the law for organic personal care products just as it does with food.
This would restrict companies from using the word organic on products not containing organic ingredients, or using the descriptor on such products as part of a brand name.
“Consumers are willing to pay top dollar for something that they believe is organic, and a better product, so at this point in the game there is no excuse for that,” Schauland said.