WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ORGANIC
There are strict regulations for being an organic product and even for using the word organic in a product’s name, label or description. The widespread misuse of the word organic makes it very hard (almost impossible) to enforce these regulations. Nothing is being done to educate consumers on how to interpret the misinformation and aggressive greenwashing campaigns.This makes it easy for companies to take advantage of our desire for more natural and healthier product and perpetuates the spreading of misleading and incorrect information.
THE CERTIFIED DIFFERENCE
Claiming a product is organic because it contains organic ingredients is like claiming to be an airline pilot because you have flown in a plain.
In order to create a certified organic product, strict guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic National Organic Program (NOP) must be met, adhered to and monitored. All ingredients used in production must be compliant with the NOP, certified organic with organic documentation or be from a short list of approved nonagricultural ingredients. The same regulations apply to both the health and beauty industry the food industry. By having to comply with food regulations, certified organic skincare products are safe enough to eat.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL
Look for the USDA Seal.Only certified organic products can display the seal.
Look for the Accrediting Agency.Organic product labels must display theUSDA NOP accredited
certifying agency on it. Technically the UDSA does not certify anything. The certification process is done by an independent USDA accredited agency. The agency conducts the certifying process in compliance with
USDA regulations and are the only real certifying agencies.
All Organic Ingredients Must Have an Asterisk. Asterisk denotes that the ingredient is certified organic. Ingredients without asterisks denote they are on the short list of USDA approved ingredients that cannot be certified because they are not grown agriculturally (salt, for example).
Ingredient Panel. Both the common and the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients name (INCI) scientific/Latin name must be written on the ingredient panel. You are allowed to choose which name you want to come first, common or INCI.
THE NOP HAS FOUR CATEGORIES OF ORGANIC COMPLIANCE
Certified Organic 100%
All ingredients must have a certification of 100 percent organic content. The USDA Seal is allowed on the packaging and the identity of the certifying agency must be displayed verifying that the product meets USDA category standards.
Certified Organic 95-99%
All ingredients combined must have an average certification of 95-99% organic content. This allows a product to contain up to 5 percent of its ingredients that are non certified organic agricultural products that are not commercially available as certified organic or are on a short list of nonagricultural approved ingredients. All ingredients must be in compliance with the USDA NOP. The USDA Seal is allowed on the packaging and the identity of the certifying agency must be displayed verifying that the product meets USDA category standards.
Made with Organic 70-94%
All ingredients combined must have an average certification of 70-94% organic content. All ingredients must be in compliance with the USDA NOP. This product may display the words “made with organic (insert specific ingredient here).” The product must display the certifying agency on the package to verify that the product meets USDA category standards. It cannot display the USDA Seal, represent the finished product as organic, or use the phrase “made with organic ingredients.”
Specific Ingredient Listings Less Than 70 Percent
Remaining ingredients do not need to comply with USDA organic regulations. The certified organic ingredient can only be identified as organic with an asterisk on the ingredient panel of the label. This product cannot display the USDA Seal or claim it is organic.
WHAT IT TAKES
The Certification Process.
- The products formula must contain only allowed ingredients.
- Manufacturers of organic products must be certified and undergo inspections to meet
all NOP manufacturing requirements and agree to random inspections. They must keep an active logbook of all ingredients and production runs.
- All layout and labeling information must be completed and submitted ensuring both the label and product are in compliance with NOP regulations.
- All formulas must be mathematically calculated and documented proving the organic percentage of each ingredient and their sum total is in accordance with the NOP category the product is appling for.
- You must submit all NOP documents for all ingredients from all suppliers you use or ever want to use stating how the ingredient was produced and what organic content their ingredient holds.
- All documents, All labels, All NOP’s, All mathematical calculations, All ingredient names, everywhere must be spelled correctly and match on every document. If it does not, if there is one typo, it will be rejected and need to be corrected before re-submitting.
- All of the above must be completed and submitted at the same time.
This process must be repeated for each and every product with a different label. This include any changes at all even if comes in two sizes, each one requires its own label and submission.
The certification process requires an extreme amount of effort, dedication, and commitment to have a single certified organic product, let alone an entire line of certified organic skin & body care products. Due to the challenges of meeting these requirements, there are only a handful of U.S. companies offering an entire line of certified organic skincare products.
I was surprised when I learned, it is the label that actually carries the certification, not the company. This allows companies to have both non-organic products as well as certified organic products. It also allows companies to have their products certified when they are not the manufacturer. How that works, the product is submitted for certification under the manufacturer’s accreditation, but the company owns the label and its certification.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO PURCHASE PRODUCTS DISPLAYING THE USDA ORGANIC SEAL WHEN PURCHASING ORGANIC PRODUCTS
Although many of the products being sold as “organic” are great and are a healthier choice it is false advertising if they are not really organic. They can contain unwanted ingredients. The USDA NOP strict regulations regarding ingredients, production and labeling requirements ensure a products authenticity and safety. It is the only United States governing body that certifies and prohibits the use of harmful toxic ingredients such as aluminum, EDTA, GMOs, nanoparticles, petrochemicals, synthetic colors or fragrances, propylene glycol or Triclosan. The USDA Organic Seal ensures that the products you are buying are actually an organic product. Buying and using certified organic products is also the easiest way to make sure all the ingredients in a product are safe and you are getting what you are paying for.
There is also something to be said for financially rewarding companies that have gone the extra mile to ensure us that their product is what it says it is.
With the ever-growing desire for greener and healthier products the word organic is being used and often deliberately misused by companies to present an environmentally responsible public image to imply that their product is a healthier and safer choice. This is greenwashing. This over use is leading to the word “organic losing some of its credibility.