Expect NSF/ANSI 305 organic label on personal-care products by year's end, NSF says

Eight months after being established, the NSF/ANSI 305 certification logo is expected to hit store shelves on personal-care products.

The NSF/ANSI 305 Standard was adopted in February 2009 by NSF International in accordance with American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI) as a voluntary certification for products containing organic ingredients. (ANSI is a private organization that administers the US voluntary standardization assessment system; NSF International has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute for 15 years.)

The NSF/ANSI 305 standard establishes materials, processes, production criteria and conditions specifically for personal-care products that contain organic ingredients; this includes rinse-off and leave-on personal-care and cosmetics products, as well as oral-care and personal-hygiene products.

The standard allows a "Contains Organic Ingredients" designation for products with organic content of 70 per cent or more. It allows for limited chemical processes that are typical for personal-care products but would not be allowed for food products, provided they are environmentally and biologically benign.

NSF/ANSI 305 Standard
  • "Contains Organic Ingredients" for products with organic content of 70 per cent or more
  • Allows for limited chemical processes typical for personal-care products but not allowed for organic food products.

NSF/ANSI 305 follows the rules of the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP), which certifies food products, but NSF expanded the scope to cover processes that are specific to the production of personal-care products. An example is esterification (a reaction of a carboxylic acid and an alcohol in the presence of an acidic substance), which is allowed under NSF/ANSI 305 but not the NOP. Other examples include hydrogenation and hydrolysis.

"These processes are allowed in NSF/ANSI 305 because they have been determined to be benign," explained Lorna Badman, senior standards specialist with NSF International. "They are needed to produce ingredients or pre-cursors to ingredients for many personal-care products. These processes will allow for a number of ingredients, primarily surfactants, emulsifiers, and emollients, but also for increased shelf stability, preservation and waxy effects."

The benign processes allowed by NSF/ANSI 305 include:

  • Steam-splitting of oils to produce fatty acids
  • Mineral acid-catalyzed hydrolysis, esterification or transesterification
  • Hydrogenation of oils
  • Hydrogenolysis of methyl or ethyl esters of an oil with hydrogen to make fatty alcohols and glycerin
  • Glucosidation
  • Sulfation
  • Protein fragment (nonpetroleum) acylation

NSF/ANSI 305 was developed with the parties directly and materially affected by the scope of the standard, Badman said. This includes organic-personal-care manufacturers, trade associations, regulators, organic-program administrators and organic-product retailers. A public comment period also allowed additional feedback on the standard requirements.

Want to learn more?
What's the difference between the NSF/ANSI, OASIS and the USDA organic seals? Click here.
To learn more about Dr Bronner's lawsuit over 'organic' labels, click here.

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