Australian authorities take action over organic mislabelling

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has taken action against cosmetics maker Natural Products of Australia over its natural and organic claims.

The action will be stressed by corrective notices being published in national magazines and newspapers during the course of this month highlighting the importance of correct naturals and organic labelling.

The ACCC said it took the action against Natural Products of Australia because it was concerned that inaccuracies on its product labels concerning the products’ composition might mislead consumers.

Natural claims misleading

On its labels the company claims to use '100 per cent pure oils and certified organic herbs’, but the ACCC was concerned that the amounts of these herbs and oils was sometimes so small it was relatively insignificant to the overall formulation.

In the same vein, the organisation also rapped Natural Products of Australia for not listing its ingredients on the labels from biggest to smallest quantities, as required by mandatory standards.

“Consumers should be able to rely on labels to provide accurate information about the chemicals and other ingredients in cosmetic products,“​ said ACCC deputy chairman Peter Kell.

Industry applauds the decision

Industry has applauded the decision by the Australian authorities, calling it a victory for those manufacturers that produce cosmetic products according to perceived standards set out for natural and organic products.

“Finally our government is doing something about organic claims,”​ said Greg Milham, CEO of Cawarra Cosmetics, an Australian company that produces organic certified products.

The ACCC said it had taken the move to highlight the mislabelling of natural and organic products after a string of complaints in relation to the matter.

Protecting consumers and the environment

Likewise, the organisation also points out that it is an important step as a means of protecting those with allergies to harsh chemicals as well as consumers who want to buy products that are more environmentally friendly.

The problems in Australia reflect those of organic and natural personal care producers worldwide.

A recent study by Organic Monitor illustrated that although the number of organic- and natural-certified products being launched is set to rise worldwide, the problem of competing standards and general confusion still remains.

Harmonisation was the goal when five major European certification bodies developed the Cosmos standard recently and measures are being taken towards setting up a similar body in the US.

Although the Organic Monitor report highlights the fact that this measure may have a unifying effect for the industry, the continued fragmentation of the worldwide organic and naturals category means that such moves are unlikely to have the far-reaching effects intended in the short-term.

Related topics: Market Trends

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