Buyer Beware of Organic Labels

A few years ago I was in Shanghai, and I bought my wife a “Louis Vuitton” purse from a street vendor for an incredibly low price. She loved it, and it disintegrated after about three uses. She and I weren’t too surprised or disappointed by this because we suspected it wasn’t an authentic Louis Vuitton purse.

We would both be surprised and upset if we found out products labeled as “organic” or “natural” contained carcinogens and petrochemicals, but this is exactly was a recent study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association found.

The study found that many personal care products labeled as organic or natural including shampoos, body washes and lotions contain a chemical called 1,4-Dioxane. The 1,4-Dioxane is present as a byproduct of a petrochemical called Ethylene Oxide that is added to the products.

1,4-Dioxane is a bad actor. It is listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency as a carcinogen and is a suspected kidney toxin, neurotoxin and respiratory toxic. Nothing about 1,4-Dioxane or Ethylene Oxide is organic or natural for us.

Don’t assume that products labeled just as organic or natural are always healthier choices. You still need to check the ingredients on the product labels. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient, it’s probably not too organic or natural. According to OCA, you should avoid products with words including “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol.”

A much easier way is to look for products that have been certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program or the German Natural “BDIH” Program. None of the products tested in the OCA study with these certifications contained 1,4-Dioxane.

To get the full story and a list of products that did and did not contain 1,4-Dioxane, go here.

Despite this study, you shouldn’t assume that all personal care products labeled as organic or natural are not healthier choices either. Some of them are fine. On that same trip to Shanghai, I also bought a “Prada” purse for a great low price. It is still in great condition after nearly three years and lots of uses.

28 comments

Bmr Reddy
Bmr Reddy3 years ago

Nice,thanks

Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

If the product is grown in an area where the air, soil and water are POLLUTEd, organic means NOTHING

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Abbe A.
Azaima A.5 years ago

caveat emptor

KARLOLINA G.
KARLOLINA G.5 years ago

The only way that I trust a food is organic is if I grow it myself. Now I know not everyone can. (sad)

Elizabeth P.
.5 years ago

Forgive me ... I have so little time, so I am just here for points for the animals ...

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat6 years ago

Thanks

Mark Kiernan
Mark Kiernan8 years ago

The best is sometimes to make your own with natural stuff. For example, my wife made some great tooth powder, with baking soda, sea salt and a few drops of (real) mint oil.

She also uses vinegar for cleaning, and baking soda for other things.

Violet L.
Past Member 8 years ago

I HAVE BECOME VERY WARY OF ALL THE CLAIMS
THAT STICK OUT ON LABELS, THESE DAYS. THERE
IS TOO MUCH "JUMPING ON THE BAND-WAGON" GOING. OH, ONE OTHER THING, THERE SHOULD BE A SCHOOL TO TEACH SHELF STOCKERS WHERE TO "STICK THEIR LABELS!" VIOLET y.

Erin Garner
Erin Garner8 years ago

The problem is that most of us scientist-fielded types CAN pronounce those words, so now what? LOL! The thing is, is that as the world evolves and technology increases we're just going to be learning more and more about products we've always used and/or consumed. The fact remains that we are individuals, what harms one person may have no effect on another. If we continue at this paranoid rate pretty soon we won't be using or doing anything with our lives. However, sitting and doing nothing is also bad for our health, so who knows how we'll survive!