Organic Cheater Personal Care Lawsuit Proceeds to Discovery Phase

Mar 06, 2009, 11:00 ET from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

Dr. Bronner's Plans ANSI-NSF 305 "Made with Organic" Certification to Supplement Existing USDA NOP Certification

ANAHEIM, Calif., March 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps successfully fended off the last of Defendants Motions to Dismiss earlier last month, with the San Francisco Superior Court rejecting Defendants arguments that California's Unfair Competition Law was inapplicable to their organic misbranding. The case now moves into discovery, and Dr. Bronner's has requested defendants to explain precisely what the term "Organic" means to them as they use it in their branding and marketing. Defendants include among others: Hain-Celestial (Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic"; Avalon "Organics"); Levlad (Nature's Gate "Organics"); Kiss My Face "Organic"; Country Life (Desert Essence "Organics"); Giovanni "Organic Cosmetics"; and the certifiers Ecocert and OASIS (the latter is currently in Appeal).

Defendants' "Organic" or "Organics" products are generally composed of main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients that are not organic, but rather are made from conventional agricultural and/or petrochemical material, with organic water extracts or aloe vera for an organic greenwash. Organic consumers expect that the main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients in "Organic" or "Organics" products are in fact made from organic material, and are not simply conventional formulations with some organic tea on top. Dr. Bronner's has made clear that Defendants must certify their products, by their preferred certifier, to meet the following minimum criteria:

  1. If a claim is "Made with Organic," main ingredients are made from organic material as commercially available, without petrochemical compounds, except some synthetic preservatives are OK. Hydrogenation, sulfation and other processing of main ingredients that does not incorporate petrochemical compounds into ingredients are acceptable.
  2. There is at least 70% organic content not counting water.
  3. However, if defendants make outright "Organic" claims in branding or labeling (e.g. "Organic Lotion" vs. "Lotion made with Organic Aloe Vera"), than those products must be 95% organic, without any hydrogenating, sulfating or synthetically preserving ingredients; and main cleansing ingredients must be derived from organic rather than conventional agricultural material.
  4. If defendants cannot live up to their organic claims, than they need to drop those claims.

Dr. Bronner's is pleased that the NSF/ANSI 305: Made with Organic Personal Care Products* standard was formally introduced to the market last month. Dr. Bronner's famous liquid and bar soaps are currently certified under the USDA NOP food standards as "Made with Organic Oils" which exceed the NSF standard. However, the NSF standard represents a responsible compromise between organic consumers and the cosmetic industry, with important requirements disallowing petrochemical compounds in cleansing ingredients and problematic preservatives. Dr. Bronner's hopes that clean brands with clean formulations that do not qualify for current USDA NOP seal certification, will certify to the NSF 305 standard. NSF should become entrenched in the marketplace against competing permissive industry standards in the market that were developed without consumer input.

*From :

NSF/ANSI 305 is also the only consensus-based standard for made with organic personal care products, which means it was developed based on balanced participation from key stakeholder groups, including organic personal care manufacturers, trade associations, regulators, organic program administrators, organic product retailers, and other stakeholders from the organic products community. The new standard allows "made with organic" claims for products with organic content of 70 percent (O70) or more that comply with all other requirements of the standard.

SOURCE Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps