For Immediate Release
CU and OCA Urge Action on Deceptive ‘Organic’ Labeling:
WASHINGTON - Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports,
and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today filed a petition
with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting action on the
widespread and blatantly deceptive labeling practices of several
“organic” personal care brands that do not comply with the National
Organic Program (NOP). For a copy of the complaint click here.
The complaint, filed on behalf of the estimated 50 million consumers of
organic products, urges the FTC to investigate and consider prohibiting
the pervasive use of organic claims on personal care products that do
not comply with the NOP.
“Consumers can be deceived and misled by the misuse of the ‘organic’
label on personal care products,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D.,
Director of Technical Policy at Consumers Union. “The Federal Trade
Commission must act quickly and decisively to ensure consumers’ ongoing
trust in the ‘organic’ label for all products, including personal care.”
Currently, “organic” personal-care products don’t have to meet the
same government standards required for organic foods. While some
ingredients may be certified as organic, the product itself may not be
and may contain unapproved synthetic ingredients. Some manufacturers
confuse the issue by including the word “organic” in their brand name,
even though it isn’t clear how much of their product is actually
certified as organic. Others promote certified organic ingredients on
the label when in fact they may only make up a small percentage of a
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While the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic
Standards Board (NOSB) enforces strict standards for the labeling of
organic food, it has not adequately regulated or enforced organic
regulations with respect to personal care products. Last year, the NOSB
formally recommended that the NOP regulate personal care products to
ensure that any use of the word “organic” is backed up by third-party
certification to USDA organic standards. In January, OCA filed a
complaint with the USDA, urging that agency to regulate cosmetics as
they do food.
”The USDA National Organic Program has irresponsibly allowed the
market for organic personal care products to be overrun by false
organic claims,” said Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the Organic
Consumers Association. “This kind of deception ends up eroding consumer
confidence in all organic products, even food. Hopefully, the FTC can
motivate the USDA to protect organic consumers."
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