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Apr 7, 2010

"Organic" Cosmetics Not Well Regulated in U.S.

MSNBC.com's ConsumerMan column has published on article on how the organics cosmetic industry legally does not have to conform to the same organic standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for organic foods. 

Several organic food lobbying groups including Consumers Union and the Organic Consumers Organization are trying to change this.  They claim that the use of the term "organic" by certain cosmetic producers is "misleading."  They have tried to force a ruling on the use of the term "organic" by bringing their complaints to the attention of both the USDA and the Federal Trade Commission.

Representatives of the organic cosmetics industry are opposed to lobbying activities of the Consumers Union and the Organic Consumers Organization.  They claim that their products are "personal care" products and not the same as food.  They say that regulation will stifle the use of natural and organic products, driving up their costs and prices that they pay to support the growth of the organic industry.

Billy Cox, the director of public affairs at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service says the agency is currently “evaluating” organic labeling on personal care products. But for now, USDA has decided:

  • It has no authority over the production and labeling of cosmetics, body care products and personal care products that are not made up of agricultural ingredients, or do not make any claims about meeting USDA organic standards.

  • Cosmetics, body care products and personal care products may be certified to other, private standards and marketed to those private standards in the U.S.

Frustrated by USDA’s refusal to more vigorously regulate these products, Consumers Union and the Organic Consumers Organization are trying a different tactic. Last month, they petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what they call “the widespread and misleading” use of organic claims on personal care products.

For more see: Weisbaum, Herb.  "Dirty secret about organic cosmetics; Consumer groups battle for labeling that makes sense," MSNBC.com, ConsumerMan, 7 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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