In comments submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) stressed that non-food products, including personal care products, may be agricultural products that can comply with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP).
For over a decade, NOP has clearly communicated that agricultural products that are not conventional foods, such as personal care products, may comply with and be labeled and marketed under the NOP. However, an August 11 post on FTC's website identified the subject of a public roundtable discussion as "non-agricultural products like personal care products."
"AHPA is concerned that the inconsistency of FTC's language used to describe these products may lead to confusion as to what products are currently regulated under the NOP, or may suggest that all personal care products are non-agricultural products," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "There are, however, readily available in the marketplace many personal care products that consist of or contain agricultural ingredients and that may be certified under the NOP and make 'organic' claims consistent with the NOP."
AHPA requests that FTC use language when addressing the issue of "organic" labeling that accurately reflects that non-food products, including personal care products, may be agricultural products and may conform with the NOP.
AHPA's comments also assert that any consumer product that is labeled as organic, irrespective of whether it is a conventional food, dietary supplement, personal care product, or other consumer product or service like a mattress or dry cleaning, should contain or use one or more agricultural ingredient.
"AHPA is concerned that applying the term 'organic' to entirely-non-agricultural items or services could distort and muddle the meaning of the term and could create consumer confusion over its meaning," McGuffin said.
Numerous AHPA members market personal care products and dietary supplements produced in compliance with USDA's NOP and labeled as "organic." These companies could be directly impacted by FTC's assessment of consumer perception of "organic" claims and potential FTC guidance on the marketing of "organic" products. AHPA's members have an interest in FTC's accurate assessment of consumer perception of "organic" claims, and in ensuring that any approaches taken by FTC to address potential deception accurately reflect the existing NOP regulatory framework for personal care products and dietary supplements containing agricultural ingredients.