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Organic V’s Non Organic – are we being deceived by the labels on our self care (Skin, personal, hair and beauty) products?

It is hard to imagine that beauty or self-care products could be poisonous, particularly when the label refers to “organic”, “pure” or “safe”. The reality is that unless you read the ingredient label,

understand organic certification and consider the packaging you really don’t know what you are putting on your skin and in your body by way of absorption through the skin.

Did you know that you can absorb MORE toxins from personal, skin and hair care products than Food?

Your skin is your largest organ in your body – and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins.

Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body.

Putting chemicals on your skin or scalp may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.

However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, this adds up to an untold amount of chemical exposures.1

So why all the fuss?

There exists a common misconception in relation to the use of the word “Organic”. Currently in Australia and mostly across the world there is little regulation surrounding the use of the word “Organic” yet the mere use of the word implies “natural” “safe” “pure” and “pesticide and chemical-free.” Companies can, and do mislead customers.

Organic as partly defined by the Oxford Dictionary2 means:

Adjective

1.  relating to or derived from living matter: organic soils

Chemistry relating to or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin. Compare with inorganic.

2. (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals: organic farming organic meat.

Noun (usually organics)

1. a food produced by organic farming.

2. an organic chemical compound.

The everyday “Organic” products commonly found on the supermarket shelves are far from “organic”, “natural”, “safe” “pure” and “pesticide and chemical-free”.

The occurrence in the misuse of the word “Organic” sadly does not just relate to self-care products, but rather to any products that can in fact be marketed to a mostly unsuspecting audience. “Organic” cleaning, food, clothing and personal hygiene products are often mistaken by consumers genuinely wanting to purchase “safer options”.

Supply always meets demand and while the majority of consumers remain uneducated as to what “Organic” truly means, companies will continue to produce inappropriate and misleading products, and why wouldn’t they? Profit is the driver in most businesses and the ingredient and manufacturing costs of producing chemical-based products are far less than the cost of producing “Certified Organic” ones. Consumers are driven predominantly by price and companies will position their product accordingly to ensure maximum uptake within the market.

How do we break the cycle and make companies accountable for their labeling?

Education is the key to empowering consumers.

Consumers need to arm themselves with the knowledge required to make informed choices and if necessary to make complaints to the ACCC when they feel a company, by way of their labeling, has deceived them.  The challenge is that currently the majority of consumers aren’t even aware they are being deceived. It is only through education that consumers will gain an understanding of what “Organic” truly is and become present to the level of deception within the market place.

Who regulates what in Australia?

The subject of mislabeling has been on the agenda of the ACCC in Australia with a recent finding against numerous water companies making “Organic” claims3. This is a positive step in the right direction for the “Organic” industry, however, we still have a long way to go to rid our shelves of deceptive marketing.

The below is an excerpt from the ACCC website which states:

Organic claims: Consumers purchasing organic products should be able to feel confident that the ingredients are in fact organic. Misleading, false or deceptive organic claims are against the law.

What is an organic claim?

An organic claim is any claim that describes a product as organic, or the ingredients used to make a product as organic. For example ‘100% organic’, ‘made using organic ingredients’ or ‘certified organic’.

Products labeled as organic generally attract a premium price compared to those produced using artificial fertilizer, chemicals or pesticides and non-essential food additives or processing aids. Businesses that make organic claims must be able to substantiate those claims.

Organic product standards

There is a voluntary Australian standard for growers and manufacturers wishing to label their products ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ (AS 6000–2009). This standard is a useful reference point when determining whether a product is organic.

‘Certified’ products

Many products carry a symbol, logo or other trade mark to show that they are certified organic. This certification is provided by various private bodies and the minimum standards required to get certification may vary.

A business that labels its product as certified organic must ensure that its product is actually certified.

All organic claims, whether they reference a standard or not, should be able to be substantiated. If a business claims to meet a particular standard, it must ensure that this claim is true.”

Although the ACCC lists the above information clearly on its website and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) governs the labeling requirements that companies must adhere to when labeling their products, the onus for reporting such misleading or deceptive labeling of products falls predominantly on the shoulders of an uneducated consumer market.

The catch 22 situation is that the majority of consumers, i.e. those not ofay with the true meaning of what “organic” really is, are unaware of any possible label deception and as such continue to use products they think are the “Organic” healthy alternatives.

Thankfully, there is a growing interest in organics and especially in certified organic. The trend in wellness appears to be gaining momentum, Farmers markets are becoming more common place, wellness websites are offering advice (most based on an individuals personal wellness journey), Organic healthy megastores and Eateries are opening (Wray Organics, About Life, The Natural Food store, Paleo’s Cafes), magazines such as Wellbeing share much needed health and wellness information regularly, and Health Centres offering a holistic approach to wellness (Chiropractic, Nutrition, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Kinesiology, Reflexology, Massage, Yoga, Mediation and Pilates) are appearing instead of the traditional one Natural Therapy modality practices that have until recently been the predominant model for alternative health care.

It is important as a consumer that we understand the difference between “Conventional”, “Organic”, “Certified Natural” and “Certified Organic” products and the potential impact of using non-Certified Organic products on the body, is important.

Certified Organic is the customer’s guarantee that all products manufactured by a company adhere to the strict and rigorous criteria placed upon it by the certifying body. The certification criteria encompass every step of the process from pre-planting of the soil through to despatch of the end product to the consumer via the warehouse.

The table below identifies the criteria outlined by Australian Certified Organic (ACO) – Australia’s largest and most trusted Certification body.

organic-vs-non-table

As you can see from the table above, Certified Organic is more stringent than Certified Natural. There is an even greater variance between the quality of Conventional and Certified Natural products and greater still between Conventional and Certified Organic products.

What do some of the Conventional and/or even so called “Organic” products contain that Certified Organic products don’t and what is the potential impact on the human body?

Most Conventional skin, personal and hair care products contain TEAs, DEAs, Sulfates, Glycols, Parabens, Synthetic and Artificial ingredients, Ethoxylates, Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde derivatives.

A large number of toothpastes, mouthwash / mouth sprays for example contain Aspartame (an Excitotoxin – “a chemical that stimulates the neurons in the brain to excessive firing, which then totally fatigues and sometimes kills them, leading to serious diseases”). and there is another particularly nasty ingredient called Triclosan found in the majority of conventional toothpaste products.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), analysis (2010) of the 10,500 ingredients used in toothpaste, sunscreen, nail polish, personal, hair and skincare products, only 13 percent of them have been reviewed for safety in the last 30 years, and those that were reviewed were reviewed by the Cosmetics Ingredients Review, which is run by the cosmetics industry.

A report by the EWG in 2010 showed that on average, most women were likely to apply 126 different ingredients to their skin on a daily basis and roughly 90 percent of these ingredients have not been evaluated for safety. The FDA even states:

Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives … Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.

When seeking out Certified Organic, in Australia, I personally recommend the Australian Certified Organic logo.

Australian Certified Organic logo

This one logo says it all… It is the consumers only guarantee that the products do not contain all of the nasty ingredients commonly found in conventional products, the ingredients are GMO free and also free from Nano-particles and have not been irradiated.  Only Certified Organic can provide that guarantee and it is so important that you align yourself with a certified organic organisation, which is reputable, and one that has the strictest of criteria and that in Australia is Australian Certified Organic (ACO).

miranda-kerr-breakfast-recipe

Here is how you can make this wonderful Organic Raw Coconut, Nectarine and Chia Breakfast Pudding!

Prep time: 15 minutes (2 hours to overnight for setting)

Soaking Time: overnight for almonds (if making fresh almond milk)

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1 cup of coconut water (from a fresh young coconut)
  • Coconut flesh (from 1 fresh young coconut)
  • ½ cup chopped pitted dates (room temp)
  • 1 –2 tbsp chia oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, honey or agave syrup (to taste)
  • 1 white nectarine or other stone fruit
  • ½ cup of chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp probiotic/biodynamic yoghurt (optional)
  • 2 tsp desiccated (shredded) coconut
  • Mint (for garnishing)

Method

To make fresh almond milk – Place almonds in a blender and process until well blended. Then strain either using a wire mesh strainer or a nut milk bag (available at any health food store).

To make pudding – 

  1. Place almond milk, coconut water, coconut flesh, pitted dates, chia seeds, chia oil and maple syrup in the blender and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute to combine well. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Slice nectarine or other fruit and add to almond milk and coconut mixture then add the chia seeds and stir.
  3. Pour mixture into 2 glasses or bowls and place in refrigerator and allow to set for at least 1 – 2 hours or overnight. You can also place in the freezer for a few minutes to help set the pudding quicker if you desire.
  4. NOTE: We like to also pour the mixture in a few little shot glasses to make chia puddings for snacks.
  5. Serve chilled and garnish with a little yoghurt, fresh mint, a sprinkle of desiccated (shredded) coconut and a few chia seeds.

therese kerr

  • the labels

    Reply

  • Since reading this I read labels all the time now, some can be rather deceptive.

    Reply

  • I often find labelling on skin care/ hair care products confusing as to what exactly they mean by organic, for now I suppose I’ll still have to rely on the company to be honest and that the ACCC will catch up with those who aren’t.

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  • I buy basically anything organic where possible for myself and my daughter!!

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  • I don’t go organic and don’t really believe in it at all

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  • I remember reading something interesting about organic foods, you should pick and choose what you buy organically, i.e. bananas have skins that you don’t eat so you don’t need to buy organic bananas, but organic berries are worth the money.

    Reply

  • interesting information. I never know if organic is really better for us?

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  • I feel informed and confused at the same time

    Reply

  • I wash my hair with bi carb and vinegar and it’s great!

    Reply

  • I don’t believe organic food is any better or worse for you.

    Reply

  • Interesting read. Thanks for sharing

    Reply

  • I don’t buy organic it has it pros and cons

    Reply

  • I like to check the products ingredients before I buy.

    Reply

  • Really good to know thanks

    Reply

  • I love the recipe and found this an interesting article

    Reply

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