The CEH claims the companies are violating the California Organic Products Act of 2003, which outlines rules for labeling of organic personal care products, requiring that any product using the term “organic” on the front of the package must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may only use the term “organic” on the ingredient list.
The wide array of mislabeled personal care products manufactured by leading natural and organic brands, including Kiss My Face, Hains Celestial, Aubrey Organics, and Lafe’s Natural BodyCare, contain potentially toxic ingredients, including chemicals suspected of causing asthma, disrupting hormones, or causing cancer and other health problems.
“For years, organic advocates have called on personal care companies to fix their improper ‘organic’ labels, but our recent purchasing shows the industry is still rife with unsubstantiated organic claims,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We want to encourage companies to use organic ingredients, and insure that consumers can trust organic labels to be meaningful and consistent.”
Neither the USDA nor the FDA have created their own set of guidelines regarding the use of “natural” and “organic” on labels of personal care products. However, the USDA has approved the California Organic Products Act which is enforced by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The CDPH periodically audits organic personal care manufacturers and investigates complaints. Additionally, it reviews label claims and product formulations, embargo misbranded products, and issue civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each unintentional violation and $5,000 for an intentional violation.
The department has taken enforcement action against only one company for mislabeled organic products in the last eight years, said Ingeborg Small, chief of the agency’s Food and Drug Branch. In 2008, after investigating a complaint, the agency fined YSL Beauté Inc. $7,500; the company pulled four products from the market to correct its labels.
The potentially class action lawsuit, if successful, could create a ripple effect as more companies start to comply with organic labeling regulations.
For a complete list of the companies named in the lawsuit click here: list of mislabeled organic personal care products