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Whole Foods Requiring USDA Certification on Organic Beauty Products

Although this is a mass market move, the focus on certified organic products instead of those claiming to be organic without the certification is becoming more of an issue in the personal care market. Is the organic line offered at your spa certified organic? Does certification matter to your clients?

Whole Foods Market announced that all personal care products and cosmetics making an “organic” claim sold in its U.S. stores must be third-party certified by June 1, 2011.

Under the new guideline, all products making an “organic” product claim (e.g. “organic shampoo”) must be certified to the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) standard, the same standard to which organic food must be certified under U.S. law. Products making a “made with organic ingredients” claim must also be certified to the NOP standard, and products making a “contains organic ingredients” claim must be certified to the NSF 305 ANSI Standard for Organic Personal Care products, a consensus-based industry standard accepted by the American National Standards Institute and managed by NSF International.

The USDA has said that personal care products can be certified to the NOP standard, but such certification is not mandatory for non-food products. To honor the authenticity of the organic label, Whole Foods Market is requiring organic certification to ensure that claims on product labels are accurate.

“At Whole Foods Market, our shoppers do not expect the definition of organic to change substantially between the food and non-food aisles of our stores,” said Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator, Whole Foods Market. “We believe that the ‘organic’ claim used on personal care products should have just as strong a meaning to the ‘organic’ claim used on food products, which is currently regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program.”

The company’s set of requirements apply to all personal care products and cosmetics which use the word “organic” in any way on the product label, including the use of the word “organic” in the brand name, which must be certified to the USDA NOP or NSF 305 standards. Whole Foods Market is currently working with suppliers to transition their label claims to the meet these standards:

  1. Products making an “Organic” product claim must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for organic (>95%) products.
  2. Products making a “Made with Organic ________” claim must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for Made with Organic (>70%) products.
  3. Products making a “Contains Organic _______” claim must be certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Personal Care Standard.
  4. Products listing an organic ingredient in the “Ingredients:” listing organic ingredient must be certified to the USDA NOP standard.

Brands making an “organic” claim have until Aug. 1, 2010, to submit their plans for compliance and until June 1, 2011, to be in full compliance.



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