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Natural, Smatural…What Does it Mean and Do We Want it Defined?
Posted: January 30, 2008
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“[The] FDA’s inaction on defining natural has confounded many in the food industry,” reports author Keith Seiz, on the Sara Lee Web site. “This parallels the organic industry, which for years begged for official guidelines to bring credibility to the claim.”
The pressure is on from the foods industry for the FDA to define natural and regulate it in some manner; however, would defining the term and setting rules for the self-regulated cosmetics and personal care industry complicate matters? What might those natural rules look like?
In Germany, the Association of German Industries and Trading Firms for pharmaceuticals, health care products, food supplements and personal hygiene products (BDIH) has established such guidelines.
According to the BDIH Web site, to certify a material by BDIH’s standards, during the collection and production of raw materials, nature is to be disturbed as little as possible. Particular care to protect endangered species is mandated. Genetic manipulation and modification are rejected and the transformation of raw materials into cosmetics is to be accomplished with care and with few chemical processes. Renewable and biodegradable materials are preferred.
BDIH states that the following guidelines define the concept of natural cosmetics with the consumer's expectations of safe and ecologically sound products in mind:
- Raw materials obtained from plants
As much as possible, raw materials obtained from plants should be used from:
- controlled biological cultivation, taking quality and availability into account, or
- controlled biological wild collections
- Animal protection
- No animal testing may be performed or commissioned when end products are manufactured, developed or tested.
- Raw materials that were not available on the market before Jan. 1, 1998, may only be used if they have not been tested on animals. This does not include animal testing performed by third parties who neither were ordered/prompted by the ordering party to do so nor are associated to the ordering party by company law or by contract.
- It is prohibited to use raw materials obtained from dead vertebrates (e.g.. spermaceti, terrapin oil, mink oil, marmot fat, animal fats, animal collagen or living cells).
- Raw materials obtained from minerals
The use of inorganic salts and raw materials obtained from minerals is generally permitted, except for those listed in point 5 (see below).
- Raw materials with restricted use
For the production of natural cosmetics, it is permissible to use components which are extracted through hydrolysis, hydrogenation, esterification, transesterification or other crackings and condensations from the following natural materials:
- fats, oils and waxes
- monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides
- proteins and lipoproteins
- Deliberate rejection of:
- organic-synthetic dyes
- synthetic fragrances
- ethoxylated raw materials
- paraffin and other petroleum products
To ensure that products are microbiologically safe, certain nature-identical preservatives are allowed in addition to natural preservatives. These are:
- benzoic acid, its salts and ethyl ester
- salicylic acid and its salts
- sorbic acid and its salts
- benzyl alcohol
- No radioactive radiation
It is forbidden to disinfect organic raw materials and completed cosmetic products using radioactive radiation.
- Certified Natural Cosmetics
A neutral control body checks that the above criteria are met. The association's label is used to indicate that the criteria have in fact been met.