Ann Arbor, MI—A new set of standards for natural personal care products is in the works from NSF International and NATRUE, who have teamed up to define the term “natural.” They are seeking to protect the integrity of verified natural personal care products. The guidelines for exactly what will be deemed “natural” will be based on the combined opinions of different groups involved in the industry, such as regulators, personal care manufacturers, trade associations and product retailers. But, NATRUE’s criteria will be used as the basis for this certification.

This isn’t the first group to attempt to tackle the standardization of natural with respect to personal care products. In 2008, the Natural Products Association (NPA) created the NPA Natural Seal certification program for natural personal care items. The group disseminated a statement voicing concerns over have two sets of standards and calling it “unneeded.” Plus, it will be unclear to consumers which criterion the consumers should consider valid.

John Gay, NPA executive director and CEO, said, “A second seal with different standards does no service to natural products customers, retailers, or manufacturers. The NPA certification program has been a huge success, with hundreds of products and ingredients earning our coveted natural seal…It is also unfortunate and puzzling that NATRUE and NSF International made their announcement in a way that could so easily be misconstrued by the public.” Specifically, Gay took issue with NSF’s and NATRUE’s language that this would be the first standard of its kind, when he believes the NPA has had a functioning, nationally recognized in place for years and that the pair were well aware of it.

NSF responded by pointing out that the new standard will give personal care companies a choice of reputable standards from which to choose. Plus, it will give companies that make both natural and organic personal care products the ability to have just one certifier.

In response to NPA’s comments, NSF stated, “The NPA standard is not an official American National Standard. NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop official American National Standards using an open, transparent consensus-based process. The NSF/NATRUE Standard will be developed by a joint committee…and also will undergo a public comment period.” The group added that “NPA is welcome to participate.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2011 (online 2/24/11)