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June 08, 2008

Natural Beauty Summit tackles certification fragmentation

Cosmetics Design-Europe reported on the natural Beauty Summit held last month in New York with the headline Natural Beauty Summit tackles certification fragmentation.  We reported in this blog on the Summit before it happened, and although we were unable to attend, have been gathering information that goes beyond the sketchy report in CD-E, and we'll be reporting more in depth about the various standards and the process of their development in the near future.

Apparently the discussion got rather heated as the panel made presentations focusing on six different approaches to standardization for certification of natural and organic personal care products in North America: the USDA NOP, a Retailer's standard proposed by Whole Foods markets, Organic standards proposed by NSF and OASIS. CD-E referred to the NSF standard as being for consumer goods, but it appears to us to be equivalent to the OASIS standard and they seem to be two wheels on the same unicycle.

However, when it came to the panel discussion, Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Weleda and Intelligent Nutrients, and chair for the conference's first session on Sustainability, chose to challenge the panel on the fact that they were contributing to the fragmentation of the certification process and consumer confusion.

The panel discussion became heated, with Rechelbacher accusing the panel representatives of being self-serving and panel members defending themselves by explaining that the development of the market in the US had made private certification necessary.

Rechelbacher apologized for his comments, but stressed that he wanted to see greater regulatory harmonization.

The Natural Products standard proposed by the NPA apparently wasn't included in the discussion. As we pointed out in our discussion of that standard (see link) the orderly Standards development process mandated by ANSI isn't being followed by most of the standards developers. The one exception is the standard being proposed by NSF, which is going through the ANSI standards development process and has gone through it's first round of review, although the public has apparently not been brought in on the process yet. And neither have the independent small producers.

Coming soon: a comparison of the NSF and OASIS organic standards.

Posted by Rob on June 8, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Politics, Regulatory Issues, Standards | Permalink

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