Stop Organic Care Fraud

By Organic Consumer Association


On November 5, 2009, the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation for "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care Products." The recommendation urges the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to make sure that any use of the word "organic" on a personal care product is backed up by third-party certification to USDA organic standards.

Currently, as the recommendation describes, "at a given retailer, one may find personal care products such as shampoos and lotions labeled as 'organic' with no clear standards or regulatory underpinning for the organic claim - and unless the product is specifically labeled as 'USDA Organic,' the word 'organic' may be used with impunity. Manufacturers of personal care products that contain organic ingredients are hindered by a thicket of competing private standards and confusion regarding the applicability of the NOP to their products. Transactions lack the regulatory clarity that applies under the NOP to food products that contain organic ingredients."

The Organic Consumers Association sees this recommendation as a preliminary victory for its Coming Clean campaign to rid store shelves of products that are falsely advertised as "organic." The USDA has long resisted policing the market for organic personal care products. Even President Obama's USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, an advocate for organic agriculture, has expressed reluctance. In response to an OCA letter-writing campaign urging her to go after personal care products that are falsely advertised as organic she wrote, "The USDA regulates organic personal care products only if they are made up of agricultural ingredients. We have no standards for personal care products and have no plans to develop standards at this time."

Her statement is at once confusing and disappointing. Organic personal care products that are made up of agricultural ingredients are the ones that are most likely to be genuine USDA-certified products. It's the personal care products that are made from synthetic, petroleum-based ingredients that are falsely advertised as "organic" that we need her to regulate.

Furthermore, OCA doesn't want the USDA to create standards for organic personal care products. We just want them to enforce the current agricultural standards in personal care, like they do when conventional foods are mislabeled as organic.

The OCA is backing up its grassroots lobbying with market pressure in the form of a consumer boycott of cheater brands and a "buy-cott" of (promotion of and support for) brands that are certified organic.

Before OCA launched the boycott of brands that are falsely marketing themselves as organic, it gave producers an opportunity to come clean. Beginning September 24, 2009, at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston, OCA met with personal care products companies engaged in organic fraud and urged them to sign a contract making a pledge to consumers that they will either meet organic standards or stop making false organic claims. The following brands refused and are now being boycotted.



Amazon Organics, Avalon Organics, Desert Essence Organics, Earth's Best Organic, Giovanni Organic Cosmetics, Head Organics, JASON Pure Natural and Organic, Nature's Gate Organics, Organics by Noah's Naturals


Alteya Organics, Baby Bear Shop, Badger, Bubble and Bee Organic, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Indian Meadow Herbals, Intelligent Nutrients, Kimberly Parry Organics, Little Angel, Mercola, Miessence Certified Organics, Nature's Paradise, OGmama and OGbaby,   Organicare, Organic Essence, Origins Organics, Purely Shea, Rainwater Organic Lotion, Rose Tattoo Aftercare, SoCal Cleanse, Sensibility Soaps/Nourish, Terressentials, Trillium Organics, Vermont Soap

The Organic Consumers Association expects a long fight for USDA enforcement of organic standards in personal care. The first step is getting the NOSB to adopt the recommendation for "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care Products." Please take action today.


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