Dr Bronner's sues over misleading organic labels

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps has filed a lawsuit against a number of
the leading natural and organic cosmetics players and two
certification bodies for making misleading organic labeling claims.

According to the San-Francisco based soap manufacturer the offending companies and certification bodies are misleading consumers and falsely advertising products as organic that contain conventional agricultural or petrochemical ingredients. Misleading organic branding "We have been deeply disappointed and frustrated by companies in the 'natural' personal care space who have been screwing over organic consumers, engaging in misleading organic branding and label call-outs on products that were not natural in the first place, let alone organic,"​ said president of Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps David Bronner. The company and the Organic Consumer Association (OCA) had previously warned the brands that if they did not drop organic claims or reformulate their products they would face litigation. However this approach failed to achieve the desired affect, according to the OCA. "The pressure of imminent litigation outlines in cease and desist letters sent by OCA and Dr Bronner's in March prompted some serious discussion with some of the offending companies, but ultimately failed to resolve the core issues,"​ said executive director Ronnie Cummins. Some of the leading players are involved in the case, with accusations falling at the feet of ten companies including Hain Celestial, the makers of the Jason Naturals brand, Estee Lauder, the makers of Aveda products and Stella McCartney's Care range. Certification bodies also under fire ​ In addition, both France-based certification body Ecocert and OASIS a US certifier have also been implicated in the case as Dr Bronner's accuses them of misleading consumers with their use of the term organic. According to Dr Bronner's, Ecocert allows both cleansing materials made from conventional agriculture and certain petrochemicals in products labeled as "Made with Organic" ingredients, and OASIS allows such ingredients to appear in "Organic" products. Ecocert has not taken the accusations lying down, however. According to the Associated Press, the body filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against the company saying that Bronner threatened to drag the company through the 'proverbial mud and to engage in widespread and negative publicity aimed at sullying' the organisation if it did not adopt more stringent standards. Certification confusion ​ The natural and organics cosmetics industry has long been suffering from the lack of an internationally recognizable, reputable standard and although there have been significant moves towards European harmonization there is little evidence of this in the US. According to market research company Organic Monitor there is likely to be further proliferation in the number of standards as certification agencies, industry groups and retailers all strive to distinguish organic and natural cosmetic products. David Bronner himself has been very active in the development of the 'organic' and 'made with' standards of NSF International specifically designed for personal care products.

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