Whole Foods Seeks ‘Organic’ Certification for Bodycare Products
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
The use of oil and petrochemicals
in manufacturing bodycare products is something not all consumers consider
when shopping. Additional confusion may be caused by the fact that some manufacturers
label their products "organic" despite
the presence of these ingredients. As yet, there is no official certification
for this term on non-food products; the USDA cannot police products that have
not been officially certified but choose to define themselves as organic.
Whole Foods Market has taken matters into its own hands, announcing that "all
personal care products and cosmetics making an organic claim
sold in its U.S. stores must be third-party certified by June 1, 2011."
means they must meet the USDA’s National Organic Program standard, the same
standard to which organic food must be certified under U.S. law. Products claiming "made
with organic ingredients" and "contains organic ingredients" must
also be certified.
Suppliers have until August 1, 2010 to explain how they will
change their labelling 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.
"Our shoppers do not expect the definition of organic to change substantially
between the food and non-food aisles of our stores," said Joe Dickson,
quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods, in a statement. "We believe
that the organic claim used on personal care products should
have just as strong a meaning to the organic claim used on food
products, which is currently regulated by the USDA’s National Organic
A detailed list of requirements for all personal care products
using the word organic on
the product label followed his statement.
In recognition and praise of Whole
Foods’ new policy, the Organic Consumer’s
Association issued its own statement encouraging other retailers to follow
suit. Ronnie Cummins, its co-founder and executive director, described it as "a
major victory for people who want to stop washing petrochemical formulations
all over their bodies and then down the drain." OCA has been orchestrating
a "Coming Clean Campaign" since 2004, trying to encourage selectivity
amongst retailers and regulation from the USDA, claiming that without accreditation, "the
main cleansing ingredients and preservatives are usually made with synthetic
and petrochemical compounds."
Discussion Questions: What do you think of mandated certification standards
for personal care products making organic claims? Should other retailers
follow suit? Is there strong consumer demand for organic and/or "natural" claims
around bodycare products?
[Author’s commentary] In addition to the
fury, grief and frustration generated by the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
comes a growing awareness of the ways in which we use (and depend on) oil.
Over the past few years, many have realized that there is more to it than
the fuel used to transport products around the world and power the factories
that make those products. There has also been much publicity surrounding
its use in creating the packaging for said products. And, of course, transporting
the packaging to the products. But Whole Foods is conflating two separate
issues. Firstly, organic certification and how to ensure its consistency.
Secondly, removing petrochemicals from bodycare products. Achieving the second
may be a prerequisite and enabler for the first but lumping them together
in this way could be overly-complicated and counter-productive.
- Whole Foods Market and Personal Care Suppliers Bring Authenticity to Organic
Labeling – Whole Foods Market
- A Huge Step for Organic Body Care – Whole Foods Market
- Whole Foods Market Imposes One-Year Deadline on Brands to Drop Bogus Organic
Label Claims and Calls for Federal Regulation of Personal Care Products – Organic