While the food industry waits for the federal government to define the term “natural,” the personal care business will soon have a second standard to aspire to. NSF International, the independent certifying organization that recently developed a “made with organic ingredients” standard for HBC products, announced plans for a natural certification program. Jane Wilson, standards director for NSF, said the standard — applicable to cosmetics, oral care and personal hygiene products — will be built on a consensus-based approach that draws input from regulators, retailers, manufacturers, and consumer groups.
“We have to have a balanced representation of these various stakeholders around the table so there isn't dominance by one entity within the standard development process,” she said.
The initiative pits NSF against a natural standard and label introduced by the Natural Products Association. The NPA's program has certified hundreds of products from more than two dozen manufacturers since it was introduced in 2008.
Will having two certification programs help? A recent survey by the marketing firm Mambo Sprouts found that 34% of whole health consumers are “not very” or “not at all” confident in natural claims, while 65% said they would be interested in a uniform certification for such products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program currently certifies all agricultural ingredients that go into HBC products, but critics argue that doesn't account for compounds and processes specific to personal care.