Whole Foods Cracks Down on Organic Claims

Most eco-foodies already know that food labeled organic must be made with at least 95% certified organic ingredients. Go to the beauty section of your store, however, and eco-beauty seekers will see the word organic proudly emblazoned on a whole bunch of products—even those that only contain a couple token organic ingredients.

Why the disparity? While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has strict rules about organic claims on food, no such standard exists for beauty and personal care products. That's why even shampoos and lotions that contain questionable chemicals like parabens can use the word organic in their packaging without getting into trouble. The practice is extremely confusing for shoppers seeking healthy, eco-friendly products. This is why environmental group Organic Consumers Association has been campaigning for tougher personal care product standards for years.

The USDA has yet to take up the issue, but one big natural products retailer is stepping up. Earlier this month Whole Foods ( WFMI - news - people ) announced that it's going to demand authenticity in organic labeling from its suppliers. That means personal care products that make claims of being organic must meet the same certification standards as food and food products.

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