I love Wholefoods Markets! Two of the four founders, John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy, got booted out of their apartment in Austin, Texas for storing store food there. So, they decided to simply live at the store. They bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose. That was when they were ages 25 and 21. Two years later they opened their first Wholefoods Market.
Last week, Wholefoods Market announced that as of June 1, 2011, all organic personal care products sold in their U.S. stores will have to be certified organic. These guidelines will require quite a few of their suppliers to become certified, change their labels, reformulate their products and take other measures to comply with their guidelines.
“We’re taking this huge step, and asking our suppliers to make these changes, because we believe very strongly that the meaning of the word ‘organic’ shouldn’t change as you walk around the store. In the grocery aisles, an ‘organic’ product is made of at least 95% organic agricultural materials grown using earth-friendly practices without toxic or persistent pesticides (and the remaining 5% can only contain carefully vetted substances from a short list of approved additives). Now, the word ‘organic’ in our body care departments will signify that same set of ideals.”
Here are their new guidelines:
- Products claiming to be “organic” – e.g. “Organic Shampoo” – must be certified to the USDA NOP standard, the same standard to which organic foods must be certified. This standard requires 95% organic ingredients and places strict restrictions on the substances that can be used in the remaining 5%.
- Products claiming to be “made with organic _____” – e.g. “Made with organic essential oils and extracts” – must be certified to the USDA NOP “made with organic” standard, which requires at least 70% organic ingredients and places strict restrictions on the substances that can be used in the remaining 30%.
- Products making the claim “contains organic _____” – e.g “Contains organic rosemary, clove and thyme oils” – must be certified to the NSF 305 Personal Care Standard. This consensus-based standard requires at least 70% organic ingredients, and like the USDA NOP standard, places strict restrictions on the substances that can be used in the remaining 30%. However, this standard allows for a small number of substances and processes that are not allowed in the USDA standard for food (since the standard as it exists now is aimed at food, not personal care), that have been carefully reviewed by the NSF International Joint Committee on Organic Personal Care , which is made up of manufacturers, retailers, regulators, certifiers, consumer groups and others stakeholders.