Getting the nice without the nasty: latest ingredients claims worry consumers
Research results reported this week indicate a potential link between parabens, phthalates and triclosan with possible birth defects and fertility problems. Recently the ACCC has taken action over inaccurate labelling that did not identify potential irritants in products labelled 'natural'. And media interest around the issue of potential harmful ingredients in personal care products is growing steadily.
Burt's Bees has worked for 25 years worldwide to educate consumers about the issues around claims made about 'natural' products. We welcome interest amongst the media and our industry colleagues in getting this right for consumers everywhere.
Accordingly, we're issuing the attached fact sheet as a resource for editors and reporters.
Because it's a serious issue - but not a simple one.
We'll always tell you in our media releases about the steps we take to ensure our products are safe, and the ways we label our products to help consumers. In fact, you'll find that information in the attached pages as well (we're only human!).
Naturally nice - but is it naturally good?
Burt's Bees Australia General Manager Emma Atkinson is keen to see more people talking about 'natural' and 'organic' personal care products. Recent interest in accurate labelling on the part of the ACCC, and the growing body of research about the potential harmful effects of ingredients such as phthalates, parabens and triclosan mean consumers are more aware than ever before - although that may actually mean more confusion, rather than less.
"It's about honesty about what we use and clarity about what we mean," Ms Atkinson said.
"There are many claims made about 'natural' in the personal care market but one natural ingredient doesn't make a product all natural any more than one organic ingredient makes a product all organic," she said.
"Ingredients such as sodium laurel sulphates, parabens and products derived from petrolatum can irritate, yet they are in the majority of personal care products on the market. And it's a real issue for people with allergies and for anyone who has simply decided to avoid those ingredients, such as pregnant women, for whom the potential risks of ingredients such as triclosan are a concern."
Burt's Bees is a founding member of the Natural Products Association (NPA) in the United States and, along with other companies including Farmaesthetics,Trilogy Fragrances and Badger Balm, has now committed to an industry wide definition of 'natural', requiring 95% of the ingredients in any one product to come from a sustainable, renewable resource in nature. It also specifies that the manufacturing process should not significantly or adversely alter the purity or effect of the natural ingredients. The NPA standard does allow for the use of synthetic ingredients when there is no viable natural alternative available - but only when there is absolutely no known or potential suspected human health risk associated with that ingredient.
"Our aim is to build on regulatory requirements with an industry agreed definition that is consistent and clear for consumers," Ms Atkinson said.
"It's a journey for most companies, and we need to be honest about that," she said.
"For Burt's Bees, we show what we know on our labelling with the 'per cent natural bar' which indicates the exact percentage of natural ingredients in the product. We're averaging 99% across the range and aiming for 100% as soon as we can make it happen.
"This is a $700m market in Australia and growing annually by 5% as more and more consumers become aware of the risks of some ingredients used widely in personal care.
"Any manufacturer or retailer in this sector should be just as keen as our customers to see clarity around this issue.
"It is the best thing we, as manufacturers, can do for both our consumers and our industry."
Get the nice without the nasty:Six reality checks for 'natural' products
Right now, consumers are concerned about the potentially harmful ingredients that might be lurking in their personal care products, despite their best efforts to buy safe products. Recent research on the effect of common additives such as phthalates, parabens, grease-cutting agents such as sodium lauryl sulphates and antibacterials such as triclosan are worrying - and can be confusing. In the interests of cutting through the confusion, here's a handy checklist to help you choose your natural personal care products with confidence.
1. One natural ingredient in a product doesn't make it all natural - Ingredient order on a label is an indication of the quantity of that ingredient. Look and see what percentage of the product is actually made up of natural ingredients.
2. Understand the difference between 'organic' and 'natural' - a product labeled 'organic' only needs to contain as little as 70% organic ingredients. That means up to 30% of the ingredients could be anything but organic or even natural - and could include the very ingredients the consumer was hoping to avoid by buying organic in the first place. Trust products that back up their organic claim with certification from a reputable body.
3. Be wary of trade-marked or brand names using 'natural' in the name - having natural in the name doesn't guarantee the product will contain natural ingredients.
4. Be aware of the language - Just because an ingredient has a long or scientific sounding name doesn't mean it's a chemical. Find out more about the ingredients if you aren't sure.
5. Watch out for phrases like 'nature inspired' or 'made with' natural or organic ingredients - This kind of language allows manufacturers to position their products as natural or organic without having to include high levels of natural or organic ingredients.
6. There are certain ingredients that should NEVER be used in a product labeled natural - Watch out for these:
· sulphates (sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate etc - and no, ammonium lauryl sulphate isn't better, in fact, it can be even more irritating than SLS)
· petrochemicals (petrolatum/mineral oil/ paraffin)
· chemicals in sunscreens (oxybenzone/avobenzone)The Burt's Bees Promise
Burt's Bees promises to stick to this standard, maintaining the highest ideals and never taking the easy way out. Burt's Bees will never compromise what is best for the consumers' experience and well-being, and will always be true to what we define as natural.
Burt's Bees products are now available at David Jones department stores throughoutAustralia, as well as other selected retail outlets.
For further information about Burt's Bees, visit www.burtsbees.com
or phone 1300 855 478www.girl.com.au/burts-bees.htm