Organic Brands May Not Be So Organic

A new study commissioned by a U.S. consumer watchdog found that leading brands of personal care Simg_t_teccobellahairscalpmoisturizproducts such as shampoos, lotions and body washes that are labeled organic or 100 per cent natural contain an undisclosed carcinogenic toxin 1,4-Dioxane.

The announcement was made by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a consumer group with over half a million members.

The reason the toxin is present is because it is a byproduct of ethoxylation, a process that the OCA describes as "a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients. The California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classes 1,4-Dioxane as a leading contaminant of groundwater and suspects it to be a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant.

The toxin is often present in conventional personal care products, said the OCA, as shown by other research, but the objection here is that it was found in so called "natural" and "organic" products, none of which are certified under the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Some of the leading brands found to contain 1,4-Dioxane include:

  • JASON Pure Natural & Organic.
  • Giovanni Organic Cosmetics.
  • Kiss My Face.
  • Nature’s Gate Organics.

The OCA is calling for all so called organic brands that include ethoxylate ingredients or use any petrochemicals in their ingredients to drop their claim to being organic and show this on their labelling and branding.

At a time when Americans are trying to wean themselves off petroleum-based ingredients, it is "self-defeating that we are literally bathing ourselves and our children in toxic petroleum compounds," said David Steinman, environmental health consumer advocate and author of The Safe Shopper’s Bible.

The OCA commented that unfortunately most personal care products sold in health food stores that claim to be "organic" contain ingredients that are not certified under the USDA National Organic Program. They contain only "cheap water extracts of organic herbs and maybe a few other token organic ingredients for organic veneer," said the OCA in their press statement.

The main ingredient in such products, said the association, is conventional manmande cleansers and conditioning chemicals, made partly using petrochemicals.

Spokespeople for some of the companies listed by the OCA as having products containing the toxin were surprised by these results and said they would be investigating further.

Click here to see the full list of products tested and the results.


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