|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MARCH 8, 2005
|CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association
Adam Eidinger , 202-744-2671
Notice to Natural Product Retailers: Misbranding 'ORGANIC/ORGANICS' on Personal Care Target of 2005 Consumer Education Campaign
ANAHEIM, CA -- March 8 -- The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), the nation's largest network of organic consumers, is giving notice to natural product retail buyers attending Expo West (March 17-20 in Anaheim, CA) that OCA is ramping up consumer education efforts regarding the misbranding of "ORGANIC/ORGANICS" on non-organic personal care. OCA's concerns are shared by other groups such as the Consumers Union over an expanding natural product marketplace that is being corrupted by companies that use "ORGANIC/ORGANICS" branding on non-organic products based on conventional synthetic cleansers, conditioners and preservatives.
"For three years OCA's Coming Clean Campaign has attempted to pressure leading personal care companies to stop abusing the word 'Organic' and to only use 'Organic' if the product's main functional and fragrance oil ingredients are made from certified organic material," said Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the OCA. "Unfortunately, despite some positive changes in how companies use and describe their organic ingredients, the ever more widespread practice of companies using 'ORGANIC' or 'ORGANICS' to brand non-organic products is spiraling out of control, to the point we have no choice but to wage a massive public education campaign focused on organic misbranding. We urge natural product retailers to exercise their influence to also demand truthful labeling and branding."
Part of the problem facing retailers who carry misbranded personal care is that the USDA's National Organic Program has not ensured that companies don't misuse the word "Organic" in describing or branding personal care products. For over three years the Organic Trade Association's Personal Care Task Force (PCTF), made up natural personal care companies, has debated standards recommendations, achieving large consensus on a program closely modeled on the NOP with certain additional allowed ingredients, but has not yet addressed the misbranding of "ORGANIC/ORGANICS" on non-organic products. Such misbranding, if left unchecked, will doom to failure organic labeling for personal care, as truthful organic product claims cannot be distinguished by the consumer.
"With food companies, 'ORGANIC/ORGANICS' branding is appropriately confined to actual organic products: the USDA explicitly states it will take formal action with the FTC if branding is misleading. But the organic personal care sector is the wild-wild west where anything goes including toxic ingredients," says Cummins. "As long as there is no control or standards of organic labeling and branding, Wall Street marketers will determine what's organic instead of the USDA. The National Organic Program is essentially a 'truth in advertising' program for organic consumers, who trust organic claims on products. We need the same degree of integrity and rigor in personal care as in foods, for the sake of organic agriculture and consumer trust."
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a grassroots nonprofit organization concerned with food safety, organic farming, sustainable agriculture, fair trade and genetic engineering.