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Using “Organic” On your Product Label

Many cosmetic and skin care companies claim their products are organic, even when those products have not been certified under the a program such as the USDA National Organic Program. Any cosmetic, body care product, or personal care product that does not meet the production, handling, processing, labeling, and certification standards described below, may not state, imply, or convey in any way that the product is USDA-Certified Organic or meets the USDA Organic Standards.

“100 percent organic”
Product must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients. Products may display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.

“Organic”
Product must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Remaining product ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances approved on the National List or non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form, also on the National List. Products may display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.

“Made with organic ingredients”
Products contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and product label can list up to three of the organic ingredients or “food” groups on the principal display panel. For example, body lotion made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) and only organic herbs may be labeled either “body lotion made with organic lavender, rosemary, and chamomile,” or “body lotion made with organic herbs.” Products may not display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.

"Less than 70 percent organic ingredients"
Products cannot use the term “organic” anywhere on the principal display panel. However, they may identify the specific ingredients that are USDA-certified as being organically produced on the ingredients statement on the information panel. Products may not display the USDA Organic Seal and may not display a certifying agent’s name and address. (Water and salt are also excluded here.)

NSF/ANSI 305: Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients
In 2009, NSF, in conjunction with ANSI, created this standard specifically for personal care products. To become certified to this standard, products must undergo a thorough review by an independent organic certification organization to verify that a manufacturer’s product formulation contains at least 70 percent organic content by weight. This program differs slightly from the USDA Certified Organic program. One such difference is that NSF/ANSI 305 allows for some limited chemical processing necessary to create personal care products. For example, soaps containing organic ingredients are permitted to undergo chemical processing known as saponification, without which these products could not lather. However, such processing would not normally be permitted under traditional organic regulations.

The fines/penalties for a violations is up to $10,000 per violation and can be levied on any person who sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations.