Bill would undermine consumer confidence in organic cosmetics sold in California - Organic Trade Association
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Bill would undermine consumer confidence in organic cosmetics sold in California


News Release      For more information, contact:
For Immediate Release    Holly Givens (413-774-7511, Ext.18)

Bill would undermine consumer confidence in organic cosmetics sold in California

GREENFIELD, Mass. (Aug. 28, 2003): A bill passed by the California Assembly and under consideration by the California Senate to repeal state regulations governing organic cosmetics would undermine consumer confidence in organic personal care products sold in California and open the door to companies wishing to make misleading claims, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

"Consumers have expectations concerning what is organic. The current California regulation provides this assurance, and safeguards the consumers' right to know that there are at least 70 percent organic ingredients in personal care products labeled as 'organic' or 'made with organic ingredients' sold in California," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA's executive director. "Eliminating these provisions from the California regulations would be a step backward, and would be against the best interest of consumers and the entire organic community."

OTA, she said, supports the current version of the California Organic Products Act of 2003 that sets requirements for cosmetic products to be labeled as organic, particularly as there currently are no federal standards governing the labeling of organic personal care products. Because the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 does not regulate non-food products as organic, a company can make a front panel claim on a cosmetic even if only a small percentage of the ingredients are from an organic source. The California Organic Products Act, however, sets a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients for such a claim.

AB 1335, introduced by Assembly Member Barbara Matthews (D-17th district) who chairs the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, would remove cosmetic products from under the definition of those products regulated as organic under the California Organic Products Act (COPA) of 2003.

"My primary concern is this repeal will undermine the value of the word 'organic,' and devalue the work that has been done by organic farmers and food producers over the past 30 years," said Gay Timmons of OTA member company Oh, Oh Organic, who chaired the COPA 2003 task force that wrote the cosmetics language into the current law.

"California should uphold its current regulations, and not back down," DiMatteo said. OTA, she added, continues to work on developing industry guidelines governing organic personal care products but anticipates this project could take another two years before completion.

Representing the organic industry in North America, the Organic Trade Association is a membership-based business association whose mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade. OTA's approximately 1,250 members include growers, shippers, retailers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants and others. For further information, visit the OTA website at or its consumer website at


August 28, 2003

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