New standards for home care products

The Natural Products Association, a Washington-based group representing manufacturers and retailers including Clorox Co. and Whole Foods Market, concerned that products like household cleaners and detergents say on labels that they are natural when they are made mostly of synthetic ingredients, plans to release new standards for natural home care products.

Natural generally means that the product's ingredients are derived from renewable resources like plants and minerals – but should not be confused with organic, which refers to a method of agriculture that avoids the use of pesticides and antibiotics. But there is currently no uniform standard among manufacturers for use of the word 'natural' in home-care products.

Products that meet those standards will be able to display the association's seal.

To display the seal, products will have to meet criteria including the following: 95% of the ingredients in the product, excluding water, must be derived from natural sources. Non-natural ingredients should be used only when alternative natural ingredients are unavailable. The product should contain no ingredients with suspected human health risks. NPA says it is reviewing full ingredient lists from manufacturers who have applied for certification to determine whether their products qualify. Products that meet those standards will be able to display the association's seal.

The association released similar standards for personal-care products such as lip balms and skin creams in 2008. So far about 350 products have its seal.

Companies say that their customers want more guidance. According to an online survey of 1,002 consumers conducted last year by Clorox, which has advised NPA on the new standards, and Braun Research Inc., a marketing and public-opinion research firm, 78% of respondents said there should be standards for natural home-care products, and 73% are more likely to purchase a product if they know it is certified as natural.

Click here for more articles

First Published Febuary 2010

Top of page