Whole Foods cleans up standards for household products

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market this week has introduced a comprehensive, color-coded rating system for household cleaners sold at its stores.

The new Eco-Scale rating system features tiered, green household cleaning standards where products are rated and classified based on the specific set of environmental and sourcing standards they each meet.

The Eco-Scale classifies household cleaners in the following categories:

  • Red-rated products do not meet the Eco-Scale standards and will be reformulated or phased out of Whole Foods Market;

  • Orange-rated products must be third-party verified to meet the following criteria: No ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns — such as phosphates, chlorine or preservatives, which have the potential to release formaldehyde. Products also cannot contain artificial colors or use animal testing;

  • Yellow-rated products feature all of orange-rated product requirements, plus no ingredients with moderate environmental or safety concerns, such as diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) or monethanolamine (MEA) surfactants — surface acting agents that can act as foaming agents — that have the potential to contain nitrosamines and other impurities, and no synthetic thickeners made from nonrenewable petroleum-derived sources. All products must feature 100%-natural fragrances; and

  • Green-rated products represent the highest level of Whole Foods' new standards and meet all the requirements of the orange and yellow products, but also contain only 100%-natural ingredients and no petroleum-derived ingredients.

"Shoppers have a right to know what's actually in the products they use to clean their homes," said Jim Speirs, global VP procurement for Whole Foods. "We've always carefully monitored ingredients. Now, with Eco-Scale, we're able to help shoppers buy eco-friendly products with confidence and provide safer alternatives for their households and for the planet as a whole."

Whole Foods said that all products sold in its stores must meet the baseline orange standard by Earth Day 2012.

For more information on Whole Foods Market's Eco-Scale, including prohibited ingredients for each tier, visit WholeFoodsMarket.com/eco-scale.