Whole Foods: 'Organic' cosmetics, personal care items must have official seal by 2011

AUSTIN, Texas Whole Foods Market has announced that it is requiring all personal care products and cosmetics making an "organic" claim sold in its U.S. stores be third-party certified by June 1, 2011.

Under the new guidelines, all products making an "organic" product claim (e.g., "organic shampoo") must be certified to the USDA's National Organic Program standard. Products making a "made with organic ingredients" claim also must be certified to the NOP standard, and products making a "contains organic ingredients" claim must be certified to the NSF 305 ANSI Standard for Organic Personal Care products, a consensus-based industry standard accepted by the American National Standards Institute and managed by NSF International.

"At Whole Foods Market, our shoppers do not expect the definition of organic to change substantially between the food and non-food aisles of our stores," stated Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods. "We believe that the 'organic' claim used on personal care products should have just as strong a meaning to the 'organic' claim used on food products."

The USDA has stated that personal care products can be certified to the NOP standard, but such certification is not mandatory for non-food products. To honor the authenticity of the organic label, Whole Foods is requiring organic certification to ensure that claims on product labels are accurate.

Whole Foods currently is working with suppliers to transition their label claims to the meet these standards: 1. Products making an "Organic" product claim: Must be certified to the USDA's National Organic Program standard for organic (>95%) products. 2. Products making a "Made with Organic ______" claim: Must be certified to the USDA's National Organic Program standard for Made with Organic (>70%) products. 3. Products making a "Contains Organic ______" claim: Must be certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Personal Care Standard. 4. Products listing an organic ingredient in the "Ingredients:" listing: Organic ingredient must be certified to the USDA NOP standard.

Suppliers who are making an "organic" claim have until Aug. 1, 2010 to submit their plans for compliance and until June 1, 2011 to be in full compliance, the company stated.