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Parabens, Carcinogens and Certified Organic Ingredients

By: Rebecca James Gadberry
Posted: June 25, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Compare that to another fetal toxicant—theobromine. A component of chocolate, this chemical is so strong that you could divide a chocolate bar, which contains one of the weakest levels of commercially sold theobromine, into 1,700 pieces, eat one piece a day and receive the same level of reproductive toxin exposure as the dibutylphthalate in nail polish. Currently, there is no legislation proposed in California to regulate theobromine exposure in chocolate.

Q. Is it true that cosmetics now can be certified organic in the same way that foods can?

A . Following a heated campaign that included official complaints and a lawsuit lodged against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by cosmetic companies and consumer groups, including the Organic Consumers Association, the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) recently recognized those cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients that meet the agency’s standard as eligible for organic certification.

In a memo published on this subject on August 24, 2005, the USDA stated, “There are agricultural products, including personal care products, that, by virtue of their organic agricultural product content, may meet the NOP standards and be labeled as ‘100% organic,’ ‘organic’ or ‘made with organic,’ pursuant to the NOP regulations.”3 Prior to the issuance of this statement, companies could receive organic certification for such agriculturally produced ingredients as plant extracts, but the finished product was not eligible.

However, unlike foods, cosmetics that do not conform to the NOP’s organic standard still can feature the word “organic” in their product or company name, and companies may use it to describe the product itself. This is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the main government agency that regulates cosmetics, maintains a position that “organic” is an unregulated marketing claim. For more information about organic as it applies to cosmetics, refer to this column in the September 2003 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.