Are your organic cosmetics really organic?

Here’s a news development that could have wider implications for anyone involved in selling natural or organic cosmetics.  It seems there was a class action lawsuit against the cosmetic brand Organix.  The lawsuit claimed that Organix incorrectly used the terms Organix and organic in their labeling because they did not contain at least 70% organic materials in their manufacture.  Rather than go to court, the company settled for some $6.5 million.

The interesting thing about this is that there is no legal requirement in the US that to call yourself organic you need to have 70% organic materials in your formula.  By settling the company may be setting a precedent which could prompt other companies to start living up to that standard.

There must be something more to the lawsuit that I am missing however as I think if Organix probably could have won the lawsuit if the claim was just against the use of the term “organic” for their particular formulas.  Perhaps their lawyers decided that settling was the best move from a financial standpoint.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what impact this has on the organic / natural products of the future.  There are still no legal restrictions on using the terms “organic” and “natural” in your advertising for cosmetic products.  The FDA has set no legal standards and the USDA (which certifies organic food) does not have any jurisdiction over cosmetics.  As long as you are not using their seal, there does not seem to be any restrictions against calling yourself organic.

Of course, I’m not a lawyer so if you want to make organic claims and you are worried about the implications of this recent lawsuit, I’d recommend you talk to a lawyer.

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