Whole Foods Market is working toward redefining organic, at least when it comes to personal and beauty care items. As of June 1st, the natural retail giant says all personal care products claiming to be organic that are sold in their U.S. stores will actually now be certified organic.
Unlike food, which has had USDA regulations in place for organic standards since 2002, the personal care aisle is a different story. Without a regulatory agency governing the category, products may make organic claims without that exactly being the case.
The natural food industry staple brand, Dr. Bronner's soap, has been at the forefront of fighting this battle against "organic abusers" who they claim have been misrepresenting their products through a number of deceptive methods including "organic" herbal waters called hydrosols. Water often makes up the majority of certain personal care products such as shampoos and lotions, but the more substantial ingredients (the viscous stuff that is the reason we buy the products) can be not only not organic, but not even natural and include ingredients known to be toxic, even carcinogenic. In 2008, the Bronners took several offending companies to court over this, including Jason, Avalon, Giovanni, Kiss My Face and Nature's Gate, claiming that the main cleansing ingredients in all of these products were not organic. The Bronners—a family-run business committed to truth in labeling, organic, Fair Trade and legalization of hemp (one of the emollient oils used in their popular soaps)—have been pushing for the same regulatory distinctions for what we put on our bodies as what we put inside them.
Now, Whole Foods agrees, and will hold manufacturers accountable if they want to take up space in the retail giant's expensive real estate. According to Whole Foods' Website, "Any product making an 'organic' product claim – like 'organic shampoo' or 'organic bath salts' must be 95% organic and certified to the same USDA Organic standard as food."
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Photo: Dr. Bronner's