Natural and organic personal care product labeling, a path to a solution

By Gay Timmons

- Last updated on GMT

Natural and organic personal care product labeling, a path to a solution

Related tags: Organic food, Organic certification

Earlier this month, Cosmetics Design sent out a special e-newsletter on natural and organic labeling in the cosmetics and personal care industry. Here, Gay Timmons, president of the Natural and Organic Health and Beauty Alliance and an occasional commenter here on Cosmetics Design, responds, describing one possible route to regulating the issue.

In response to the recent article ‘Words Mean Nothing: The plight of natural and organic beauty labeling’​ I have this [to say]: understand how regulations come into existence and, if this is a serious concern to you, get to work.

We need a path to a solution. Maybe this will help:

The history of the USDA- NOP seal and standard is a great model for how laws get written.

- 1970s - Multiple organic farm certifiers came into existence. This evolves to add food processors by the early 90s.

- 1990 - The Organic Foods Production Act was passed in the Federal Legislature.

- 1990s - There were over 45 certifiers, each with their own standard.

- 1990s - The Organic Trade Association created a harmonized version of these Standards that most of the largest certifiers signed on to.

- 1998 - USDA-NOP came out with the first (reviled) version of the NOP regulation. The final was passed in 2001.

- 2002 - Final Rule implemented and the NOP Food Standard was a law!

Contained in the very brief review above is the fact that a large industry had to work together over a 30 year period to 1) establish a recognizable market place for ‘organic’ food and then 2) come to sufficient consensus that the government felt justified in creating a law and then the regulations to implement the law.

If we, as an ‘organic and natural’ cosmetic industry are going to carve out definitions for these words, we need to work together to establish a similar level of consensus.

I encourage anyone using organic and/or natural claims to become familiar with the California Organic Products Act language on cosmetic, look at the COSMOS and NSF 305 Standards and, even if you don’t want to become certified, use them as a guideline. Then join the Natural and Organic Health and Beauty Alliance​ (www.nohba.org) and work on best practices for using these terms so that we can present a united face to our regulators.

We need to do this together. That means public conversations, people working on committees and patience. Lots of patience.

Then, maybe, we can craft a consensus understanding of the words organic and natural.

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