Whole Foods cleaning up organic personal care

06.17.2010

Whole Foods cleaning up organic personal care

From the Organic Consumers Association:

Whole Foods Market Imposes One-Year Deadline on Brands to Drop Bogus Organic Label Claims and Calls for Federal Regulation of Personal Care Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), the nation's largest consumer group dedicated to organic integrity, is pleased the nation's largest natural product retailer, Whole Foods Market (WFM), is taking action to address widespread organic labeling fraud in personal care. Such brands as Avalon Organics, Nature's Gate and Giovanni, make organic claims on products whose main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are generally made without any organic material whatsoever and are usually composed in significant part of petrochemicals. OCA commends WFM for taking such a bold and meaningful step on behalf of organic integrity for their customers. The new standard announced by Whole Foods is a milestone achievement for OCA campaigners who recently began escalating tactics with boycotts of organic cheaters, protests at trade show conventions and strong alliances with groups such as the Consumers Union.

"In the wake of the BP oil spill, Whole Foods' announcement couldn't come at a better time. Now more than ever, Americans are searching for alternatives to petrochemicals in the body care aisle," says Ronnie Cummins co-founder and Executive Director of OCA. "This is a major victory for people who want to stop washing petrochemicals all over their bodies and down the drain. These consumers want trusted options for real organic personal care. The new Whole Foods policy will force major organic cheater brands to drop organic claims from their branding and labeling."

The new Whole Foods Market policy on "organic" labeling on personal care products states:

"We believe that the 'organic' claim used on personal care products should have very similar meaning to the 'organic' claim used on food products, which is currently regulated by the USDA's National Organic Program. Our shoppers do not expect the definition of 'organic' to change substantially between the food and the non-food aisles of our stores."

Whole Foods' new policy mandates that "Organic" or "Made with Organic [specified ingredients]" claims must be certified under the USDA National Organic Program, just like food. A more limited "Contains Organic Ingredients" claim for personal care may be certified under the NSF ANSI 305 standard. Organic claims that are not certified, including "Organics" in branding, will not be allowed. Brands have been told they have until August 1, 2010 to explain how they will change their labeling or formulations to comply with the new standard and until June 1, 2011 to be in full compliance with Whole Foods' new policy. Brands that don't submit an explanation are expected to be dropped from store shelves over the coming year.

Other major natural product retailers such as Trader Joe's and the National Cooperative Grocers Association (representing over 100 natural product retailers in the US) face a choice. Will they follow Whole Foods' lead and require the new truthful labels, or will they continue to enable organic fraud? Consumers will look unfavorably on retailers that duck responsibility and profit from organic cheater brands that rip off their customers. OCA will send a letter to all these stores asking for a formal response by August 1st as to whether they will join Whole Foods and cease organic fraud in their stores by June 11, 2011. OCA will publish each stores' response so consumers can see whether their preferred natural products store chooses to stand up for organic integrity.

"What a relief for people ridding themselves of petrochemical products, that they can shop at Whole Foods without worrying about being ripped off by petrochemical formulations masquerading as organic products," says Cummins. "Trader Joe's, NCGA and all other natural products stores need to get with the program and follow this market leader’s example."



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