Whole Foods Market Imposes One-Year Deadline on Brands to Drop Bogus Organic Label Claims and Calls for Federal Regulation of Personal Care Products

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Alexis Baden-Mayer 202-744-0853, alexis@organicconsumers.org 

Whole Foods Market Imposes One-Year Deadline on Brands to Drop Bogus Organic Label Claims and Calls for Federal Regulation of Personal Care Products

In Wake of BP Oil Spill, Consumers Want Bodycare Products Made without Petrochemicals: Organic Consumers Association Calls on Other Leading Retailers to Follow Whole Foods' Example

WASHINGTON - The
Organic Consumers Association (OCA), the nation's largest consumer
group dedicated to organic integrity, is pleased the nation's largest
natural products retailer Whole Foods Market is taking action to
address widespread organic labeling fraud in personal care. Such brands
as Avalon Organics, Nature's Gate and Giovanni, make organic claims on
products whose main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are
generally made without any organic material whatsoever and are usually
composed in significant part from petrochemicals.

 

Whole
Foods staff should be commended for taking such a bold meaningful step
on behalf of organic integrity for their customers. The new standard
announced by Whole Foods is a milestone achievement for OCA campaigners
who recently began escalating tactics with boycotts of organic
cheaters, protests at trade shows and forging strong alliances with
groups such as Consumers Union. 

 
"In
the wake of the BP oil spill, Whole Foods' announcement couldn't come
at a better time. Now more than ever, Americans are searching for
alternatives to petro-chemicals, including in the bodycare aisle," says
Ronnie Cummins co-founder and Executive Director of OCA. "The new Whole
Foods policy is a major victory for people who want to stop washing
petrochemical formulations all over their bodies and then down the
drain.  These consumers want trusted options for real organic personal
care. Whole Foods policy will force major organic cheater brands to
drop organic claims from their branding and labeling."
 
The
new Whole Foods Market policy on "organic" labeling personal care
products states:  "We believe that the "organic" claim used on personal
care products should have very similar meaning to the "organic" claim
used on food products, which is currently regulated by the USDA's
National Organic Program. Our shoppers do not expect the definition of
"organic" to change substantially between the food and the non-food
aisles of our stores."
 
Whole
Foods new policy mandates that "Organic Product" or "Product made with
Organic [specified ingredients]" claims must be certified under the
USDA National Organic Program, just like food.  A more limited
"Contains Organic Ingredients" claim for personal care may be certified
under the NSF ANSI 305 standard, which has additional allowances for
personal care products.  All organic claims which are not certified,
including "Organics" in branding must otherwise be dropped. Brands have
been told they have until August 1, 2010 to explain how they will
change their labeling or formulations to comply with the new standard.
Those that don't submit an explanation are expected to be dropped from
store shelves over the coming year while those that comply will have
until June 1, 2011 to be in full compliance with Whole Foods new
policy. 
 
Other
major natural product retailers such as Trader Joe's and the National
Co-Op Grocers Association (representing over 100 natural product
retailers in the US) now have a choice in the face of Whole Foods' new
policy. Will these other natural products' stores follow Whole Foods
lead and require truthful labels, or will they choose to enable organic
fraud with the old status quo?  With two labeling options, natural
stores must make a choice and can no longer duck responsibility and
profit from organic cheater brands ripping off their customers. OCA
will send a letter to all of these stores asking for a formal response
by August 1st, whether they will join Whole Foods in demanding that
organic fraud cease in their stores by June 11, 2010.  OCA will then
publish each stores' response so consumers can see whether their
preferred natural products store chooses to stand up for organic
integrity or not.  To see letter go to http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare  
 
"What
a relief for people ridding themselves of petrochemical products, that
they can shop at least one chain without worry they will be ripped off
with  petrochemical formulations masquerading as organic products,"
says Cummins. "Trader Joe's, NCGA and all other natural products stores
need to get with the program and follow this market leader's example." 
 
Mr.
Cummins published an Op-Ed today in the Huffington Post entitled "The
Oil Spill in the Bathroom."  OCA also submitted a letter to the USDA
National Organic Program, following up the formal Complaint OCA
submitted in January against organic cheaters, informing NOP that all
the relevant organic groups in the US, including OCA, OTA, Consumers
Union, Cornucopia and Whole Foods, have weighed in that NOP needs to
regulate personal care.   See http://www.organicconsumers.org/

 

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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.

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