USDA Certified Organic – Does it Matter?
Essential Wholesale & Labs recently launched several new USDA Certified Organic products. You may have even purchased the organic sample pack to give them a try. Our entire team has been excited about these new products not only because we love using them, but we’re also celebrating the success of creating new products with USDA Organic Certification. You may be asking yourself “What’s the big deal? Organic is organic so why is this USDA certification worth celebrating? We’re celebrating because the products under the USDA organic certification umbrella not only meet strict organic standards, they’re also designed to be efficacious and easily customized with essential oils and tinctures.
So let’s start at the beginning. Before the establishment of the National Organic Program, the term “organic” was used with abandon. In some cases, if something was produced on planet earth, it was labeled “organic”. Different standards were randomly applied and there was no universally accepted definition. It was a bit like the Wild West: lawless and reckless. In the 1980’s it was clear that consumers needed to know exactly what “organic” meant and a grass roots movement began to standardize the term “organic”. By 1990 the Organic Foods Product Act was established and in October of 2002 the National Organic Program (NOP) standards were adopted by the USDA.
With clear guidelines in place, consumers are now assured that any products labeled organic in the United States are required to meet these USDA uniform standards. In order to receive organic certification, a company must choose a certifier with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). There are many different accredited certifiers with the NOP. The NOP was initially created for food, but the cosmetics industry really needed something as solid to be able to offer clean products whose ingredients had been grown with no synthetic fertilizers, no pesticides, no GMOs, through sewage sludge or irradiation. Essential Wholesale & Labs got on board with the Organic Certification in 2006. We interviewed different certifying bodies and chose Oregon Tilth (OTCO) for its leadership in helping to develop the National Organic Standards of the USDA and for their obvious care of the process. Oregon Tilth was one of the first to gain accreditation and begin offering organic certification under the USDA organic regulations.
Essential takes the labeling of organic products seriously. When products contain multiple ingredients, such as beauty care products, understanding labeling can be confusing. The use of the word, “organic,” as well as use of the USDA seal and the seal of the certifying agency, depends primarily on the percentage of organic ingredients.
There are four general categories of multi-ingredient organic products:
100% Organic = 100% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
Certified Organic = 95% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
Made with Organic Ingredients = At least 70% of ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water.
No Label Claims = Less than 70% of ingredients are certified organic.
You may be wondering if you can repackage and label USDA Certified Organic Products that you purchase from Essential. If you wish to have your product carry the USDA logo, you will need to have your products filled/shelf ready by an Organic Certified Handler. If you are not already certified as a handler, let Essential Wholesale & Labs do all the work for you to take the product from inception to shelf ready.