Judge rules that organic food standards do not apply to cosmetics

By Chris BARKER

- Last updated on GMT

Judge rules that organic food standards do not apply to cosmetics

Related tags: Organic food

A Californian Judge has refused to toss out the ongoing lawsuit against Kiss My Face for falsely labeling a product line as “organic.”

Californian U.S. District Judge John A. Houston denied Kiss My Face’s motion to dismiss the suit, which was made on the argument that enforcing the requirements of the US Department of Agriculture could not be carried out through a private course of action.  

Kiss My Face also claim that letting the suit stand might impose a conflicting set of standards.

However, Judge Houston found that the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act did not apply to cosmetics and beauty products.

 “The ordinary meaning of ‘human consumption’ includes food but does not include cosmetic products. Only defendant’s inflated definition of agricultural products attempts to clothe cosmetics within the rubric of the OFPA,”​ he stated in an order denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

The cosmetics company was sued last year by plaintif Matthew Dronkers, who alleged that the firm’s labeling of a particular product line as “obsessively organic” ​constituted misrepresentation.

Motion to dismiss

Kiss My Face’s request for dismissal was based on the claim that the plaintiff’s claim went against the federal Organic Foods Production Act, which specifies that labeling requirements cannot be enforced through a private cause of action.

They also claimed that the suit could impose a potentially conflicting set of standards because the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board had recommended that NOP standard cover personal care products.  

However, this view was firmly rejected along with the motion to dismiss.

Judge Houston commented: “As noted by Plaintiff, there is no statement regarding any congressional attempt to preempt state labeling requirements for cosmetics. In fact, the language of the statute suggests that the OFPA is limited to food.”

“While the complaint cites to the NOP compositional requirement for guidance as to a definition of organic, the claims do not seek to enforce NOP products as to “agricultural products but instead seeks relief under California’s unfair competition, false advertising laws and the CLRA based upon Defendant’s claims that its products are organic when they are not.”

He also noted that the USDA had not taken any formal steps towards including cosmetic products under NOP regulations.

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