What’s in a Label? Whole Foods Redefines “Organic”

Did you ever buy a beauty product and later realize that you didn’t get what you paid for? It happened to me just the other day. I was in the shower and when I went to grab my new “organic” shower gel I discovered that what I thought was organic was actually missing the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program seal. Talk about an uncertified letdown!

Well, starting June 1, 2011, that won’t happen at any Whole Foods Market in the U.S. That’s right, the country’s first national certified organic grocer (high five to them!) will only carry personal care products and cosmetics that make an organic claim and are third party certified.

What does all that mean to you? The main thing will be when you walk into Whole Foods Market to to purchase organic beauty products, you will leave with organic certified products. Now let’s dig a little deeper. What changes can you expect when you shop your favorite Whole Foods Market?

1) If a beauty care item you want to purchase makes an organic claim, like “organic lotion” or “organic blush,” that product must be certified to the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program standard (USDA NOP). It’s a chockfull of words to say, but a powerful statement to shop by.

2) If a cosmetic claims to be made with organic ingredients, it will now have to be certified by the National Organic Program (NOP) standard. In the past, beauty products could be certified by the NOP standard but it was not necessary. Thanks to Whole Foods Market, it will now be mandatory to ensure the organic ingredients are, well, precisely that.

3) If a product claims to contain organic ingredients, it must be certified to the NSP 305 ANSI Standard for Organic Personal Care products. Don’t get lost in all the big words. Naturally, it just means the organic ingredient listed has to be exactly that. Uncertified ingredients need not apply.

Merchants have until August 1, 2010 to get their oh-so-natural plans submitted for compliance and as previously mentioned, until June 1, 2011 to be in fulfillment. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, once said, “Business social responsibility should not be coerced; it is a voluntary decision that the entrepreneurial leadership of every company must make on its own.” So don’t be upset if your favorite beauty product is no longer stocked. Think of it this way: if it doesn’t comply in time, it wasn’t good enough for your beautiful skin anyway.

TessMarie Golcher