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Why Certify Organic Personal Care Products if You Don't Have To?

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Certified Organic Body Care Packaging cosmétique nature © Pierre brillot

Arguments For

There are plenty of good reasons why companies should certify organic body care, even though they're not required to.

  • In the U.S. today the only way to prove that a body care product is 100% is to get the product certified as USDA certified organic and slap the USDA organic seal on it.

  • The USDA organic seal gives consumers a way to tell real organic products from the fake organic products.

  • Becoming certified shows that your organic body care company values the term organic.

  • Getting certified proves that you care about the health and safety of your customers.

  • Certification standards should be fair. Right now the USDA cracks down on food companies who mislabel organic food products. For example, a juice maker cannot label juice as 'organic' in any way, shape or form unless it's been certified organic by the USDA. Food and body care products should be treated the same in order to help standardize the organic industry.

Arguments Against

Arguments against organic certification tend to fall under a few categories: certification is too much work; it's unnecessary; or consumers should understand ingredients better on their own.

  • Self-regulation already works: Spokeswoman for the The Personal Care Products Council, Kathleen Dezio, says, "Cosmetic companies are required by law to substantiate the safety of their products before they are marketed. Companies take this responsibility for safety substantiation very seriously."

  • Regulating safe, organic body care is too much work: "We are concerned that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 would put an enormous if not impossible burden on FDA, and would create a mammoth new regulatory structure for cosmetics... The measures the bill would mandate are likely unachievable even with the addition of hundreds of additional FDA scientists and millions more in funding and would not make a meaningful contribution to product safety," says the Personal Care Products Council.

  • Chemicals are safe, and if not, consumers should know better: The FDA says things like, "The FDA does not consider the lead levels in lipsticks to be a safety concern." The FDA also points out that most nail care products can easily catch fire if exposed to heat, may cause irritation or allergic reactions, and that methacrylic acid (MAA used in nail primers have caused, "A number of serious injuries to children who ingested such products or spilled them, receiving burns to their skin." The FDA doesn't have an argument as to why they don't regulate dangerious chemicals better. The FDA simply states that it's up to consumers to read labels, know the ingredients and make personal choices about the products they buy.

Where It Stands

As a company making or selling organic body care products, you don't have to get certified USDA organic. You can choose to label products as you like, even if you're not certified.

That said, while consumers may be somewhat confused about organic body care labeling right now, they won't be forever. Consider organic food. As a new product, consumers didn't completely understand organic food labeling. Now, many consumers have educated themselves about organic food. Currently there are many savvy organic food shoppers who are truly picky about what they purchase.

The same thing will eventually happen with organic body care. Advocacy groups and individual advocates are pushing consumer eduction about organic body care. Over 600 organic businesses have signed on with the Organic Consumers Associations' Coming Clean Campaign to support organic certification in the body care industry.

Many consumers are boycotting fake, mislabeled organic products. For a company, the USDA seal makes it easy for consumers to choose your organic product over fake or mislabeled organic products. The USDA seal also allows consumers to feel good about purchasing your products.

From a business or retail perspective, it makes sense to get your body care products certified organic, or to only carry certified products, even though you don't have to.

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