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Buffing organic labels clean in the personal care aisle

When it comes to food, the definition of “organic” is extremely clear, thanks to Federal regulation that defines how organic food is grown, raised, processed and sold. When it comes to personal body care products, however, there’s no government oversight of organic body care. So consumers have no assurance that “organic” products contain any organic ingredients at all.

At Whole Foods Market, we believe that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body, so certification is now required on all personal care products making “organic” claims. We created these guidelines to ensure that products making organic claims contain substantial amounts of organically grown plant-based ingredients. After all, the term 'organic' refers to a very specific type of agricultural product, which embraces earth-friendly practices and does not use toxic or persistent pesticides. The term 'organic' should only be used on products that are a result of this kind of agriculture, regardless of whether they can be eaten or not.

Hopefully these efforts will address consumer confusion about labeling and encourage the quality of personal care—and the industry as a whole—to improve.

Interested in hearing what these guidelines meant for our producer partners? We're happy to connect you.

Organic Labeling Requirements & Examples:

1: Products making an “Organic” product claim

Examples: “Organic Jojoba Shampoo,” “Organic Sea Mineral Body Wash”

Certification requirement: Must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for organic (>95%) products.

Documentation required: Suppliers must present an organic certificate, issued by a USDA-accredited certifier and showing certification to the NOP standard. The certificate must name the specific products being evaluated.

2: Products making a “Made with Organic [Ingredient]” claim

Examples: “Made with organic oils,” “Made with organic essential oils and botanical ingredients.”

Certification requirement: Must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard for Made With Organic (>70%) products.

Documentation required: Suppliers must present an organic certificate, issued by a USDA-accredited certifier and showing certification to the NOP standard. The certificate must name the specific products being evaluated.

3: Products making a “Contains Organic [Ingredient]” claim

Examples: “Contains organic oils,” “Contains organic aloe and rosemary.”

Certification requirement: Must be certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Personal Care Standard.

Documentation required: Suppliers must present certification documentation demonstrating current compliance with the NSF/ANSI 305 standard.

4: Products listing an organic ingredient in the “Ingredients:” listing

Example: “Ingredients: WATER, ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE (ORGANIC ALOE VERA)……,”

Certification requirement: Organic ingredient must be certified to the USDA NOP standard.

Documentation required: Suppliers must present an organic certificate, issued by a USDA-accredited certifier and showing certification to the NOP standard. The certificate(s) must name the specific ingredient(s) being evaluated.

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Joe Dickson

Global Quality Standards Coordinator

Joe is responsible for developing and maintaining standards for natural food, body care and food policy issues, including organic agriculture and genetically engineered crops.

Jody Villecco

Global Quality Standards Coordinator

Jody Villecco is responsible for researching, coordinating and maintaining the Quality Standards at Whole Foods Market.

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