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CEH files lawsuit against cosmetic companies violating organic labeling law

By Andrew McDougall , 22-Jun-2011

CEH files lawsuit against cosmetic companies violating organic labeling law

Cosmetic companies are violating organic labeling law by mislabeling products, according to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH).

CEH has suggested that dozens of personal care products are mislabeled as organic which is a violation of California law.

Products contain dangerous ingredients

Several of the products, including products intended for children, contain potentially toxic ingredients, including chemicals suspected of causing asthma, disrupting hormones, or causing cancer and other health problems, the lawsuit claims.

"For years, organic advocates have called on personal care companies to fix their improper 'organic' labels, but our recent purchasing shows the industry is still rife with unsubstantiated organic claims," said Michael Green, executive director of CEH.

"We want to encourage companies to use organic ingredients, and insure that consumers can trust organic labels to be meaningful and consistent."

The USDA has not created its own rules regarding cosmetic products, but it has approved California's organics program, including the state's rules regarding cosmetics and personal care products.

Must contain 70 percent organic

The California Organic Products Act of 2003 outlines rules for labeling of organic personal care products, requiring that any product using the term ‘organic’ on the front of the package must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients may only use the term ‘organic’ on the ingredient list.

However, in May and June this year, CEH found dozens of products made by 26 companies that are labeled on the front as organic yet contain few or, in some cases, no organic ingredients, based on the ingredient lists on the items.

However whilst this lawsuit is in place, CEH stressed that it should not deter people from purchasing organic products, and hopes it will not have an affect on sales.

According to CEH, the aim is to correct misrepresentative labels and to ensure that consumers are not mislead by false claims.

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