Those of us who care about what toxic chemicals we put on and in our bodies have been frustrated for years about the lack of labeling requirements for body care products (makeup, soaps and shampoos, toothpastes and perfumes, etc.). Companies could label what they sell as "organic" and we just had to all cross our fingers and hope they were telling the truth, because there was no outside certification or policing of labels for body care products as there are for foods. 

 

Now that's changed — at least at Whole Foods Markets — with the recent announcement that the Austin-based grocery is now third-party certifying all of the personal care products it sells. 

 

According to a release from Whole Foods, the company was responding to customers' needs: “Believe it or not, there are no federal laws that regulate how the word ‘organic’ can be used on personal care products. Our shoppers don’t expect the meaning of organic to change between store aisles, and neither do we,” said Jeremiah McElwee, global coordinator of the personal care department at Whole Foods Market. “Our suppliers eagerly took on the challenge of making crucial ingredient and labeling changes. Thanks to their tremendous support, our shoppers can trust that all products in our U.S. stores labeled as ‘organic’ truly are.”

 

Whole Foods' requirement as of yesterday — and going forward — for anything sold in the "Whole Body" section of the store are: 

  • Products making an “organic” product claim − Must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) standard for organic (>95%) products.
  • Products making a “Made with Organic [Ingredient]” claim − Must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for Made with Organic (>70%) products.
  • Products making a “Contains Organic [Ingredient]” claim − Must be certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Personal Care Standard.
  • Products listing an organic ingredient in the “Ingredients:” listing − Organic ingredient must be certified to the USDA NOP standard.
 

Now those of us who want to try new products, but know we are going to have to take a long, hard look at the ingredients list and the company's website may be able to skip a step. (I'll probably still read ingredients though, since it's always good to know what you're eating or putting on your skin.)

 

The best part of this development is that now the largest national retailer has specific standards, other companies are likely to follow suit (and hopefully, at some point, government regulating bodies will as well).

 

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