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A new personal care policy at Whole Foods Markets mandating that “Organic Product” or “Product made with Organic [specified ingredients]” claims must be certified under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), as in the case of foods, is being applauded by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), the nation’s largest consumer group dedicated to organic integrity, which notes that the Austin, Texas-based grocer’s revised standard should help stem “widespread organic labeling fraud in personal care.”
“In the wake of the BP oil spill, Whole Foods’ announcement couldn’t come at a better time,” said Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and executive director of Finland, Minn.-based OCA. “Now more than ever, Americans are searching for alternatives to petrochemicals, including in the body care aisle. The new Whole Foods policy is a major victory for people who want to stop washing petrochemical formulations all over their bodies and then down the drain. These consumers want trusted options for real organic personal care. Whole Foods policy will force major organic cheater brands to drop organic claims from their branding and labeling.”
Whole Foods’ policy on organic labeling of personal care products now says: “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 nonfood aisles of our stores.”
According to the standard, all uncertified organic claims, including the term “Organics” in branding, will no longer be stocked at the company’s stores. Brands carried by Whole Foods have been told they have until Aug. 1, 2010, to explain how they’ll change their labeling or formulations to comply with the new policy, or be dropped from store shelves over the coming year. Companies that agree to the new standard will have until June 1, 2011, to become fully compliant.
OCA said it’s sending a letter to such entities as Trader Joe’s and the National Co-op Grocers Association (NCGA), which represents over 100 natural product retailers in the United States, to ask whether they’ll join Whole Foods in getting rid of all uncertified personal care products by June 1, 2011. Recipients are requested respond formally by Aug. 1. The group plans to publish each response.
“Trader Joe’s, NCGA and all other natural products stores need to get with the program and follow [Whole Foods’] example,” noted Cummins.