OCA continues campaign against ‘mislabelled’ organic cosmetics

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Oca, National organic program

The Organic Consumer Association has continued its campaign against what it believes to be mislabelled ‘organic’ cosmetics products with a complaint to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).

The complaint addressed to the NOP was filed collectively on behalf of 50 million consumers of organic products, according to the Organic Consumers Assocaition (OCA).

It refers to the products of a number of companies, including the Hain Celestial Group, Kiss My Face Corporation and YSL Beauté, that are marketed as organic, but that, according to OCA, do not have the right to use the term.

According to OCA the NOP has the obligation to act on cases of mislabelling and the complaint ‘respectfully’ calls on NOP to remedy this problem.

“USDA has recognized that ‘the NOP is ultimately responsible for the oversight and enforcement of the program, including oversight of exempt and excluded operations and cases of fraudulent or misleading labelling,’”​ the OCA wrote in the complaint.

The products referred to in the complaint are clearly a case of ‘fraudulent or misleading labelling’, according to OCA, for which it argues the NOP is ‘ultimately responsible’

Voluntary systems not enough

In addition, the complaint argues that voluntary certification systems that certify to the word ‘organic’ are not the answer.

Further to it not being mandatory to certify to these standards, the letter also criticizes two systems available in the US, OASIS and Ecocert, as it claims that their use of the term ‘organic’ does not reflect that held by the consumer.

For the OCA, the USDA not only has the ‘authority, but also the obligation,’ to remedy the situation and fights against what it refers to as the mislabelling of certain products.

The complaint is signed by national director of OCA Ronnie Cummins as well as David Bronner, president of Bronner’s Magic Soaps, founder of Intelligent Nutrients Horst M. Rechelbacher and the president of Organic Essence, Ellery West.

Along with the complaint, Dr Bronner’s has also launched a lawsuit in an attempt to fights against this alleged mislabelling.

The lawsuit was filed back in April 2008 as Dr Bronner’s felt its adhesion to strict regulations regarding organic products was not being met by its competitors.

This ongoing battle has gone through various legal guises and with the publication of OCA’s complaint David Bronner stated the company had re-filed the complaint in the courts under the Lanham Act for false advertising.

“One way or another, the era of ripping off organic consumers in personal care will soon come to an end,”​ he said in a statement.

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