NPA brands Natrue/NSF announcement ‘confusing’

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

The Natural Products Association (NPA) has responded to the announcement that Natrue and NSF International are working together to develop the first American natural standard for cosmetics by branding it ‘confusing’.

Last week Natrue and NSF announced they will work together to develop the first US national standard for natural cosmetics that will be accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in an attempt to reach a global definition of ‘natural’ in personal care.

‘Not the first…’

However NPA has hit back stating such a standard has existed for years, citing its own that was set up in 2008.

John Gay, NPA CEO, said, “NPA is here to help the consumer, not confuse them. A second seal with different standards does no service to natural products customers, retailers, or manufacturers.”

Gay also added that it was 'unfortunate and puzzling' that Natrue and NSF made their announcement in a way that could so easily be misconstrued by the public.

He cited multiple discussions NPA and Natrue had on a mutual recognition of the former’s standards.

“Natrue and NSF no doubt know that the United States already has a successful natural standard, and any standard they developed could not be called the ‘first’. I certainly hope their choice of words was not meant to intentionally mislead anyone,”​ he said.

Previous discussions

However, Natrue general director Julie Tyrrell responded stating that Natrue had been trying to work with NPA on developing this standard for two years.

“We met with NPA and NSF in the past, and there was support for harmonisation,”​ she told

However she stated that, although willing to reach a mutual recognition, two years down the line, and with no response from NPA, Natrue felt the situation could not be dragged out further.

According to Tyrrell, Natrue wants a transparent standard set up at an international level that consumers can trust. She claimed that NPA were not excluded from these discussions and were informed that the ANSI standard was being set up but had not responded.

“This will be recognised as an official US standard, and by using ANSI we are open to public consensus,” ​she added.

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Transparency, History and Standards

Posted by Gay Timmons,

The NSF/NaTrue announcement is normal in the context of how effective standards get written. In that context, the continued call for "harmonization" of so few standards is short sighted: organic standards took 40 years and 40 different standards to arrive at enough consensus, market demand, and innovation that government standards made sense - and government regulations are the ultimate in consensus.

At this point consumers really do not buy cosmetics based on seals. Until we have a boat load of tested, evolved standards, it is short sighted to call for harmonization. Th EU is way ahead of us and they will still have spats between the standard owners for some years.

The issue of transparency is of greater concern: NSF requires that one purchase their standards before one can see it there fore it is not transparent. Neither consumers nor interested users can take a look at the standard.

We need the full range of private, public and non and for-profit standards to push this program forward to develop an effective and representative set of organic and natural standards that work for industry and their consumers. Four guys in a room at NPA wrote their standard and there is no transparency in that process. NSF let's you sign up if you can figure out their process, but it is cumbersome and difficult to amend when new technology or information becomes available. NaTrue would be well served to stay away from that process until they have developed a standard, implemented it over a few years and then take it to an ANSI body. This move is premature.

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the clock is ticking

Posted by Meilssa Christenson,

Every day that slips by without consensus is another day we in the industry must wait for innovative new green raw materials to be developed. These new ingredients we're waiting for, including foaming surfactants, emulsifiers and preservatives are critical to enhance the performance of natural and organic personal care formulations. But, ingredient vendors are not going to jump into development when the standards are still being debated. They're waiting, formulators are waiting and the consumer is waiting.

What have we really accomplished in the past decade of debate around organic and natural certifications? Is the consumer really better off, are they really less confused? I'm anxiously awaiting the day we as an industry can move off of this certification topic and on to innovation.

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Response from NSF International

Posted by Kelly Nichols,

The NPA standard is not an official American National Standard. NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop official American National Standards using an open, transparent consensus-based process. The NSF/NATRUE Standard will be developed by a joint committee with representation from all interested stakeholders: regulators, academia, industry and consumers, including NSF’s organic certifier QAI, and also will undergo a public comment period. In following this open, public process, the resulting NSF/NATRUE Standard will be recognized as the only official American National Standard for Natural Personal Care. NPA is welcome to participate.

How will this standard help?

- There currently is no regulatory or a globally-recognized definition for the term "natural." The new NSF/NATRUE American National Standard will define the use of the term "natural," helping to protect and promote authentic and quality natural personal care products.

- Because the NSF/NATRUE standard will be a public standard, manufacturers will be able to choose from a number of certifying bodies to have their products certified to the standard.

- Additionally, manufacturers who make both natural and organic personal care products will be able to go to one certifier for their certification needs.

The first stakeholder meeting to discuss the development of the standard will be held Thursday, March 10th from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the Natural Products Expo West trade show. Parties interested in helping to develop the standard can contact NSF Standards Manager Lorna Badman at or 734-827-6806, or visit

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