The question: What is a good organic lotion?
STORE: West coast independent natural foods store
NFM: I’m looking for a good organic lotion. Can you point me in the right direction?
Store employee: A body lotion or a face lotion?
Store employee: A lot of people like these coconut brands. (She points out two brands, one with “organic” in the name and another without any organic wording or seals.) This brand [with “organic” in the name] is always great. It’s kind of this classic line that’s been around forever. They do all-organic ingredients and have no parabens or anything like that.
NFM: So this brand is organic? (Points to first organic-named brand.) What’s the difference between it and this brand? (Points to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic brand.)
Store employee: I don’t know much about [the certified brand]. I know it’s pretty basic, pretty natural. I know that [the organic-named brand] will have more coconut oil. I forgot about the [certified brand]. It’s good too. Pretty natural.
Comment: The store employee seemed not to know the difference between a certified-organic lotion and an organic marketing claim. According to the New Hope Natural Media standards department, the USDA organic seal shouldn’t be used on labeling unless the production facility is certified organic and the final product contains at least 95 percent certified-organic ingredients (excluding water and salt). Certification must be done by a third-party, USDA-accredited certifier. This applies to personal care products as well as food. Efforts are underway to develop a government-approved seal specifically for organic personal care; in the meantime, independent certifiers like NSF and OASIS in the U.S. and Ecocert and the Soil Association in Europe also use their own organic seals.