Discover 5 Benefits of Using ACO & USDA Organic Standards Certification Products
Have you ever purchased a product labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ only to find out the product actually contained chemicals? Do you get frustrated when reading labels because the ingredients sound like a science experiment? What is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate? Does it come from a coconut? Is it safe for me to use?
I understand the frustration! How do you know if a product is actually ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ and living up to its claims?
You are what you absorb, so why is the average woman putting 120 chemicals on their bodies every day? Most of them untested. Many linked to cancer or reproductive issues.
The FDA also does not “define or regulate the term ‘organic,’ as it applies to cosmetics, body care, or personal care products.”
In 2015, Canada had only listed 573 ingredients on their Hotlist compared to 1,715 ingredients restricted or prohibited by the European Union. The FDA has only 11 ingredients that are prohibited or restricted.
What Can You Do As a Consumer?
Without certification, any company can claim their product is ‘organic’ or ‘natural.’ As a consumer, look for products that are labeled ‘certified organic.’ The term ‘certified organic’ implies the product’s ingredients have been validated by an independent third party.
But different labels mean different things. Organic standards certification can vary. What do the different organic standards certification mean?
Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
To be classified as Australian Certified Organic (ACO), the products must contain more than 95% certified organic ingredients. It is one of the most stringent certification organizations in the world. The remaining percentage (up to 5%) must be natural ingredients that must meet strict processing criteria (no GMOs). No synthetic ingredients are allowed. You can find the full list of allowed ingredients on the ACO website.
Products carrying the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) logo must meet all of the requirements of standards of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). Under this program, there are 4 organic labeling categories based on the product’s organic content and other factors. Products displaying the USDA organic seal must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). The remaining ingredients must consist of non-agricultural products approved on the National List.
The Soil Association is the largest organic certification body in the United Kingdom. According to their website, the product must contain 95% organically approved ingredients to carry their logo (organic certification stamp of approval). If the product contains 70 – 95% organic ingredients, the label can display “made with xx% organic ingredients.” The Soil Association has less stringent requirements for certification than the ACO and USDA. It also allows certain synthetic preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and the use of cocamidopropyl betaine (surfactant composed in part from petrochemical material).
ECOCERT is the Euoprean standard for organic labelling. In order for a product to carry their logo, it must contain 95% plant-based ingredients but only 10% must be organic. This is very misleading. You may want to double check the ingredient list of a product carrying this logo before purchasing it. They also allow various petrochemical ingredients and synthetic preservatives that other certifiers strictly prohibit such as the ACO.
The BDIH is a natural certification body. Products carrying this logo do not need to contain organic ingredients. A product labelled with their logo is not necessarily 100% natural or organic. They allow synthetic preservatives and substantially processed substances.
Unlike other organic certification bodies which also certify food, NATRUE standards are for cosmetic products only. NATRUE defines its labeling criteria through an independent scientific committee. They decide which ingredients are accepted, threshold levels and minimum derived natural ingredients. For the highest level of certification, at least 95% of the product’s natural ingredients “must come from controlled organic cultivation and/or controlled wild collection.”
NATRUE is the most perplexing of the certification bodies. They have different requirements for different product types i.e. different standards applied to shampoos than soap. NATRUE also allows many potentially toxic and irritating ingredients such as synthetic preservatives.
The COSMOS-standard is a non-profit international association registered in Belgium. In 2002, 5 certifiers involved in organic and natural cosmetics came together: BDIH, The Soil Association, ECOCERT, ICEA and CosmeBIO. The COSMO-standard allows the concept of ‘green chemistry.’ Chemically processed agro-ingredients and the chemical treatments are allowed if they respect the principles of green chemistry. The ingredients must comply with strict limitations of toxicity and biodegradability. They also allow preservatives and petrochemicals.
Benefits of Using ACO and USDA Certified Organic Products
- Independent third party guarantee of quality and purity of ingredients
- Authenticity of ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ product claims
- Eco-friendly – manufactured without the use of synthetic chemicals
- Sustainable management of the land and natural environment
- GMO free
The Miessence Difference
- Certified organic by the ACO and USDA
- 110% certified carbon negative (offset more carbon than they emit)
- Non-toxic, non-leaching packaging
- Use renewable energy in production facilities and offices
- Ingredients are cold formulated (no heat used)
- Raw cold pressed unrefined oils
- Hand made fresh every 30 days
Now you know the difference between certified and non-certified organic products, and what the different organic standards certification logos mean. Keep an eye out for products carrying the ACO and USDA certification logos the next time you go shopping.
Latest posts by Susan Rever (The Organictarian) (see all)
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- Discover 5 Benefits of Using ACO & USDA Organic Standards Certification Products - August 19, 2017