Back in June I recorded a news segment Adam did for Dr. Bronners attacking the USDA for deciding to remove the USDA Organic Seal from personal care products. Last week the USDA backed down, and decided to continue to allow companies to keep the seal on body care products. All I can say is well done :-)
via USA Today:
Soap can proudly display certified ‘organic’ label
By Libby Quaid The Associated Press
WASHINGTON â€” The government is reversing its decision to yank the “USDA Organic” seal from lotions and lip balms and will now allow cosmetics to carry the round, green label.
An organic soap company and a consumer group had sued the Agriculture Department for ordering removal of the distinctive seal.
Without the government seal, the word organic is “just a fluff marketing claim,” David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, said Wednesday. “It’s kind of a truth-in-advertising thing â€” consumers can trust that it is, indeed, free of synthetics and does support organic farming and agriculture.”
Bronner’s company and the Organic Consumers Association sued the department in June.
The department created the label three years ago for food and other products grown without pesticides or fertilizer and made with all-natural, chemical-free ingredients. It applies to meat and dairy products from animals given organic feed and access to the outdoors and never given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Department officials decided in April they didn’t have the authority to regulate cosmetics and ordered companies to remove the USDA seal. Late Tuesday, a day before a deadline to respond to the lawsuit, it issued a memo reversing itself.
Barbara Robinson, head of the department’s National Organic Program, said officials have struggled over the issue, particularly because the program is still new.
“We’re USDA. We’re looking at it from an agricultural perspective. We do agricultural products here. We do food,” Robinson said in an interview. “We don’t do cosmetics here. We’re not lipstick. We’re not mouthwash. We’re not lawn-care products. It takes awhile to sit down and look at this and say, all right, how do we make this work?”
In the end, officials decided the product use doesn’t matter as long as it follows the rules. In other words, Robinson said, “What difference does it make if you brush your teeth with it or eat it?”
The reversal also allows dietary supplements and pet food to carry the organic seal. The USDA now is creating organic standards for fish.
The decision to remove the seal from cosmetics frustrated companies that, like Bronner’s, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to find all-organic ingredients and get certified. Only products cleared by government-authorized agents can use the seal.
Legal liability was also at stake: Some organic cosmetics companies have been sued for deceptive labeling because they bore the claim.
Now it should be clear that, “Just like food, the federal standards pre-empt any state laws, and if you meet federal standards, the product is organic,” said William J. Friedman, an attorney defending the companies in state courts.
Bronner and the consumer group expect to drop the lawsuit pending settlement talks in the next month, said their attorney, Joe Sandler.