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Personal Care


OTA's Board of Directors adopted an official position supporting mandatory public (federal government) regulation of organic labeling claims on personal care products in April 2010.
Labeling of all cosmetics ("personal care products") is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FDA has yet to regulate “organic” claims. The National Organic Program (NOP), which regulates organic foods, currently lacks the legal authority to regulate “organic” label claims of personal care products, except when personal care operations voluntarily choose to meet organic food standards, gain NOP certification, and use the USDA Organic seal.
Cosmetics, body care products, and personal care products may be certified to other, private standards and be marketed to those private standards in the United States. These standards might include foreign organic standards, eco-labels, earth friendly, etc. USDA’s NOP does not regulate these labels at this time.
Consumers need assurance in the USDA organic label and certified organic brands need confidence in fair market conditions. The formal release of industry best labeling practices will promote and optimize compliant and truthful labeling, and encourage leadership by companies committed to consumer trust. It will also educate newcomers who may not know otherwise and will apply pressure on those who do. Ultimately it will support our members and lead the charge in stamping out misleading and inaccurate organic claims.

OTA Position on the Regulation and Labeling of “Organic” Personal Care Products in the U.S.  

OTA supports mandatory public (federal government) regulation of organic labeling claims on personal care products.
  • Public (federal government) regulation of personal care products making “organic” claims is the option most consistent with OTA’s mission and core values.  This option is the best way to accomplish:
  • mandatory third-party certification of PC products making “organic” claims 
  • strong mechanisms for compliance and enforcement 
  • removal of products from the market that have no organic content but make an organic claim. 
  • Public (federal government) regulation will guarantee that organic personal care products meet a consistent standard and will assure that consumers can trust the organic claim.
  • OTA supports the development and adoption by NOP of an organic personal care standard and will work with its members, with USDA/NOP and with Members of Congress, as necessary, to reach this goal. Regulation by USDA/NOP is the best way to achieve: 
  • consistency with existing NOP product labeling 
  • mechanisms for oversight by experts in organic handling minimizing consumer confusion and supporting public confidence in the organic label, given   that the USDA Organic seal is seen as the “gold standard."
  • OTA recognizes that there are distinct needs of personal care product formulation. Any federal standard for organic personal care should safeguard the integrity of organic as well as take into account materials and processes distinct to the production and processing of personal care products.
  • A “new” organic personal care standard could incorporate the best of existing private standards as well as the existing NOP organic standard to which some products have been certified.
  • An organic personal care standard should aim to minimize public concern about synthetics in organic; have ways to involve experts in cosmetic formulation; and strive to support international trade given the global nature of organic markets.
  • OTA understands that it will take significant time and resources to reach the goal of federal regulation under NOP. However, we believe it is the right solution for the long term. OTA is developing an advocacy plan and identifying the resources needed to advance this goal.
  • OTA commits to advocating for additional resources and expertise for NOP so that the program has the capacity to reasonably address personal care products and is not overburdened by a significantly broader scope without the requisite resources.
  • In the interim, OTA will recommend industry best practices regarding how companies should be communicating and marketing their organic personal care products in the absence of mandatory federal regulation.