Misleading 'Organic' Claims Found in Thousands of Beauty Products
By Scott Faber
Cosmetics and other personal care product companies make questionable organic claims on thousands of products, a new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis shows.
More than 5,000 products in EWG's Skin Deep database—about 20 percent of current product formulations rated on the site—use "organic" in the brand name, product name, product label or list of ingredients. But many of these products contained risky or hidden ingredients and received poor Skin Deep scores.
Skin Deep rates a product on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best score and 10 the worst score. Of the products that used the term organic, more than 250 received a score of 5 or above. Four products that used the term organic received a score of 9 or 10.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the use of "organic" when the claim is made on farm products. Cosmetics made primarily of farm products are allowed to carry the USDA Organic seal if 95 percent or more of the ingredients meet federal organic standards, and the remaining ingredients are on an approved ingredient list and were not produced using prohibited methods. Products labeled "made with organic ingredients" can have up to 30 percent non-organic ingredients but cannot use certain ingredients.
But there is no federal standard for "organic" cosmetics products derived from chemicals. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has primary authority over regulating cosmetics, makes little effort to police misleading "organic" cosmetics claims. Some private standards for "organic" cosmetics may allow the use of chemicals that are linked to health problems and restricted in other nations.
WOW! Women Apply an Average of 168 #Chemicals on Their Bodies Every Day http://t.co/CRRtDZ6pWn @ewg @SafeCosmeticsHQ http://t.co/tLw7cBMI13— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1431695501.0
The proliferation of misleading claims and the absence of meaningful oversight has fueled enormous consumer confusion.
A new survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the USDA found that many consumers mistakenly believe personal care products with organic claims meet government standards, even though most do not. A large number of consumers also mistakenly believe personal care products with organic claims contain only organic ingredients.
At the same time, consumers are increasingly seeking and buying "organic" personal care products. Over the past decade, annual sales of "organic" non-food products, including personal care products, have soared from less than $1 billion to $3.6 billion. So far this year, consumers have searched Skin Deep for the word organic 150,000 times, an average of 538 searches per day.
Compounding the confusion is the fact that most consumers mistakenly believe cosmetics chemicals are reviewed and regulated by the FDA. A recent poll found that two-thirds of consumers believe cosmetics chemicals must be proven safe before they can be placed on the market. In fact, the FDA does not review cosmetics chemicals and has only banned nine chemicals for safety reasons.
Many other misleading claims are also made on personal care products, including "natural," "unscented" and "hypo-allergenic" claims. EWG found 21 products in Skin Deep that make "unscented" claims but also list "fragrance" in the ingredients.
7 #Makeup Brands That Are #CrueltyFree + #Vegan -- https://t.co/JbLXvfncoZ via @EcoWatch @peta #Lifestyle #Fashion #Beauty #AnimalRights— Andrea Angulo (@Andrea Angulo)1470762322.0
The misuse of the term organic on cosmetics and other personal care products not only deceives consumers, but also undermines public trust in the USDA's organic standard. Unlike private standards, the USDA organic standard for food and farm products is set and enforced by the federal government, so it guarantees that a product was produced without dangerous chemicals.
What should be done? Today, the FTC and USDA will host a meeting to discuss whether consumer confusion about organic claims on cosmetics, cleaners and other non-food products warrants greater oversight of misleading claims, including greater attention from the FTC.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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