Did you know that your natural and organic products may be mostly chemical?
By EU law, for food to be called organic the manufacturers must comply with a lot of regulations. This includes the way in which the ingredients are grown, their full traceability, what can and can’t use in a product and to what they can label the product – the rules are far reaching and rigorous. The manufacturer must also be independently certified as being compliant with the relevant high standards.
EU laws for organic cosmetics (this includes hair products such as shampoo) are surprisingly different. Within the EU, a manufacturer can legitimately make and sell products as ‘organic’ that have just 1% organic ingredients combined with a list of ‘generally recognised as safe’ but clearly not natural ingredients. They also don’t have to declare any ingredients that are below 1%, which means that frequently a lot of the harsh preservatives and other problematic chemicals don’t even make it onto the ingredient list displayed on the packaging. You can find some of those listed here.
The EU have no definition of the word ‘natural’ so that enables manufactures to stretch the meaning of this well beyond what the general public as a whole consider the word to mean.
…and even worse:
The EU have no pet specific regulations for cosmetics. No, really, they don’t. Frequently this means that many products have a very short declared ingredients list. The EU don’t have a department checking out claims of being organic or natural. Instead they rely on the public to contact their local Trading Standards if they have concerns. Next time you are in a tack shop pick up a few bottles, look for an ingredients list and what’s declared.
How to tell if your product is truly organic.
If you are interested in buying any organic products for you or your horse, make sure you only buy those that are independently certified by organisations, such as the Soil Association or Biodynamic Agriculture Association. That’s currently the only way to be completely certain that the ingredients list is complete and that you really are getting what it claims to be on the label.
Why are many certified organic cosmetics not 100% organic?
For an ingredient to be defined as organic it needs to be from agriculture and meet the terms of the organic standards. Natural ingredients that are not grown, such as salt, citric acid, almost all surfactants and vitamin E do not count towards the organic percentage of a product (the exception is water, which is not included in the calculation). This means that you will never get 100% organic shampoo, body washes and creams. When you see a bottle or jar that says, for example, 75% organic, it doesn’t mean the other 25% is anything not natural, naturally derived or even bad! It’s just telling you the truth about how much of the product is from organic agriculture. Just take a few moments to read the ingredients list before deciding either way.
If you are keen to know more, such as what non-organic ingredients are permitted you can read the full COMOS standards here.