Warning: Declaration of warm_cache::addPluginSubMenu() should be compatible with mijnpress_plugin_framework::addPluginSubMenu($title, $function, $file, $capability = 10, $where = 'plugins.ph...') in /nfs/c10/h07/mnt/144539/domains/greenerchoices.org/html/wp-content/plugins/warm-cache/warm-cache.php on line 24

Warning: Declaration of warm_cache::addPluginContent($links, $file) should be compatible with mijnpress_plugin_framework::addPluginContent($filename, $links, $file, $config_url = NULL) in /nfs/c10/h07/mnt/144539/domains/greenerchoices.org/html/wp-content/plugins/warm-cache/warm-cache.php on line 24

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /nfs/c10/h07/mnt/144539/domains/greenerchoices.org/html/wp-content/plugins/warm-cache/warm-cache.php:24) in /nfs/c10/h07/mnt/144539/domains/greenerchoices.org/html/wp-content/plugins/WP-ProGrid/main.php on line 193
label Archives - Greener Choices

Posts Tagged ‘label’

Fixing the “Natural” Label

Posted by

What's wrong with "natural"?

Media Coverage

"Natural" In the News

Widespread media coverage of our efforts to ban the "natural" label or define it in a meaningful way is raising awareness among consumers, and putting pressure on government agencies to take action.

Consumers Taking Action

What You Can Do

If you're looking for foods grown without the use of most synthetic pesticides, no GMOs, no antibiotics and limited artificial ingredients, leave foods labeled "natural" on the shelf and look for foods with the USDA Certified Organic label instead. 

Media Coverage

"Natural" In the News

Widespread media coverage of our efforts to ban the "natural" label or define it in a meaningful way is raising awareness among consumers, and putting pressure on government agencies to take action.

June 24, 2014

Citizen Petitions

In June 2014, we submitted citizen petitions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, asking the agencies to ban the "natural" label on the foods they regulate.

 

May 10, 2016

Our comment to the FDA

Consumer Surveys

What makes a good Label?

Posted by
Did you know?

Did you know?

Nearly half of consumers think the "natural" label is verified.

It isn't.

Labels

Makes a Good Label?

Generally, the best labels are seals or logos indicating that an independent organization has verified that the producer met a set of meaningful and consistent standards for environmental stewardship, animal welfare and/or social justice.

Rating labels

Criteria We Use to Evaluate Labels

When we evaluate and rate labels, we use the following criteria:

 

Labels should be backed by a set of meaningful standards. The standards should have requirements that go beyond the industry norm or basic legal requirements. These standards should be verifiable by the certifying group or another independent inspection organization.

A label used on one product should have the same meaning if it used on other products. Standards should be verifiable in a consistent manner for different products.

The organization behind a label should make information about its organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public.

Certifying organizations and their employees should not have any ties to, and should not receive any funding, sales fees, or contributions, from logo users except fees for certification. Employees of companies whose products are certified, or who are applying for certification, should not be affiliated in any way with the certifier.

All standards should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders including consumers, industry, environmentalists and social representatives in a way that doesn't compromise the independence of the certifier. Industry representatives, for example, can play an important advisory role without having direct financial, decision making or management ties to the certifier.

Certified Humane

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Meaningful.

The standards cover a range of requirements for the humane treatment of animals, and most requirements exceed the industry norms. For example, there are minimum space requirements and provisions for indoor housing conditions to relieve boredom and stress and maximize the animals' comfort. The standards include requirements for humane slaughter.

However, there are areas where the standards do not require more than the industry norm. Chickens and pigs are not required to be granted access to the outdoors, making it possible for chicken, eggs and pork with the Certified Humane label to come from animals that were confined indoors for their entire lifespan. The program allows for physical alterations of the animals, such as beak trimming of laying hens and teeth filing of piglets. These procedures that are typically performed to prevent aggressive behavior in confined and stressed animals.

Beef cattle are not required to be granted access to pasture and can be confined in feedlots.

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the organization that develops and maintains the standards, inspects and monitors the certified farms. HFAC staff makes the final decision regarding certification.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes.

All the requirements must be met for the product to be certified.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

Board of Directors: Yes. The members of the Board of Directors and their affiliations are listed on the website.

Financial information: Yes. The IRS Form 990 with financial information is publicly available. Major donors are not listed.

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The Board of Directors has the final authority over the standards. The organization has a policy that prohibits board members who have or may have a conflict of interest from discussing and voting on the standards.

Verification: Yes. The organization has a policy that prohibits inspectors who have or may have a conflict of interest from inspecting the farm. The final decision regarding certification must be made by a staff member who does not have an interest in the operation.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The standards were developed by the organization’s scientific committee, which consists of academic animal welfare experts and veterinarians.Standards updates: Yes. Updates to the standards are generated by the Scientific Committee or Humane Farm Animal Care staff. The changes are shared with all producers, who are invited to submit comments. Comments are reviewed and incorporated by the Scientific Committee.

This label addresses Animal Welfare

LABEL CATEGORY

BeefEggsLambPorkPoultry

The Certified Humane label means that the farms raising the animals for meat, eggs or dairy met the Humane Farm Animal Care program’s standards that aim to improve living conditions and ensure humane treatment during transportation and slaughter.

Details

Certified Humane standards also require prudent antibiotic use and prohibit artificial growth hormones and animal by-products in animal feed. The label does not mean that chickens and pigs went outdoors, or that beef cattle and dairy cows had continuous access to pasture for grazing.

Visit the label's website

Certified Humane

.

Label Standards

Certified Biodegradable

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Highly Meaningful1

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

No2

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Highly meaningful.

The “certified biodegradable” claim is highly meaningful, especially when compared to the general biodegradable claim. However, it should not be taken to mean that it is 100% biodegradable. The standards are clearly defined, transparent (publicly available), meaningful, and are independently verified.

The SCS Global Services certified biodegradable program would be more meaningful if it were more consistent with guidance issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how the claim of “biodegradability” should be used. According to the FTC’s guidance, biodegradable means that the materials will break down and return to nature within a “reasonably short time after customary disposal.” For products that go down the drain, like detergents and shampoos, FTC guidance states that “a reasonably short period of time” would be about the same time that it takes for sewage to be processed in wastewater treatment systems. Sewage is generally processed in most municipal wastewater treatment systems much more quickly than 28 days.

SCS Global Services does, however, consider the biodegradability of the product under actual conditions of use. For example, a cleaner designed to clean boats would need to be biodegradable if added directly to a lake.

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

SCS Global Services staff or consultants may not have any financial interests or ties with companies who are certified. Therefore no conflicts of interest exist and Scientific Certification Systems is independent from the certified products.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

No.

Although the recommended tests are the same as those used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and input on the certified biodegradable standards was obtained from government and industry. Also, any member of the public can comment on the standard or appeal the certification of a particular product.

This label is on Cleaning

LABEL CATEGORY

Environmental Persistence

SCS Global Services, an independent certifier, has developed certification standards for biodegradable soaps, detergents, and cleaners. SCS Global Services requires information on the formulation of the product and test results from either the entire product or each of the individual ingredients.

Details

This information, plus other available information from the scientific literature, must show that the product will biodegrade in the environment when used as directed, that it (or its breakdown products) will not be toxic to aquatic organisms, that it does not contain phosphates or other compounds that contribute to eutrophication (an excess of nutrients, leading to overgrowth of plant matter and depletion of oxygen in water bodies), and that the ingredients will not adversely impact the environment by displacing other harmful substances (e.g., heavy metals) already present.SCS Global Services’ standards require testing using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test (or other validated test) to show 70% biodegradation within 28 days into carbon dioxide, water, and minerals under conditions where oxygen is present. SCS also requires EPA tests or other validated tests to ensure that whatever material is left after biodegradation is not toxic to aquatic organisms.

In addition, SCS Global Services will not certify products, even if they meet the standard of 70% biodegradation within 28 days in required tests, if the ingredients are not likely to biodegrade in the “real world” due to their presence in such large quantities in the environment that they overwhelm the ability of bacteria to biodegrade them. For example, under certain circumstances detergents containing linear alkyl sulfonates were not certified for this reason.

SCS Global Services’ standards state that certain tests can be be waived if certain condition are met. For example, testing showing 70% biodegradability in 28 days may be waived if each ingredient can be shown not to enter or concentrate in receiving water bodies at levels that would impact aquatic organisms. However, no waivers of this test have been granted to date.

Ingredients in a product that are also known to be present in water or sludge downstream from wastewater treatment plants at levels that could impact aquatic organisms must also be shown to be degradable under oxygen-deprived conditions, and not to bioconcentrate (build up in living tissue).

SCS Global Services also reviews the labeling and marketing material of a company to ensure that its logo is being used appropriately, and that the company is not exaggerating the meaning or scope of the certification, or associating it with other environmental claims, for example.

  1. However it should not be taken to mean 100% biodegradable.
  2. Broad input from government and industry was obtained, and any member of the public can comment on the standard or appeal the certification of a particular product.

For More Information

Certified Biodegradable

SCS Global Services (SCS) has been providing global leadership in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development for three decades.

Label Standards

Bird Friendly

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Highly Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Highly meaningful.

With organic certification as a requirement and detailed requirements for canopy that supports bird habitat, the Bird Friendly standards support the concept "bird friendly." The standards require at least 40% canopy cover over the farm, a minimum number of different tree species including native species in the upper layers of the canopy, a minimum height of the canopy, vegetative buffer zones next to rivers and lakes, and soil management practices.

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

The label is verified by a certification agency that certifies to the USDA organic standards (since organic certification is a requirement for Bird Friendly certification). The organic certifying agency verifies the Bird Friendly requirements every three years.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes

Complete compliance with all standards is required, and 100% of the coffee in a package with the Bird Friendly label must be certified.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) is a research unit within the Smithsonian Institution, located at the National Zoo. The Smithsonian Institution is categorized as both a government organization and a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Board of Directors: Yes. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center does not have its own Board of Directors, but members of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Directors are posted online. The standards are decided by the members of scientific staff of the SMBC, which are posted online.

Financial information: Yes. As both a government institution and a 501(c)(3), financial information is available publicly.

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The scientific staff of the SMBC has final decision authority over the standards, and none own or have a financial interest in certified coffee farms.

Verification: Yes. The standards are verified by USDA-accredited organic certifying agencies which must be free from conflict of interest.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The standards were developed by the scientific staff of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, based on their research findings, with input from external scientists, experts producers and retailers.

Standards updates: N/A. There have been no substantial changes made to the standards since they were initially developed.

This label is on Coffee

LABEL CATEGORY

Pest ManagementSustainable AgricultureBiodiversityLow Contaminant Levels

The Bird Friendly label is found on coffee, and means that the farm where the coffee is grown is certified organic and in addition, maintains canopy for diverse bird habitat. The goal is to preserve or increase the diversity in the native and migratory bird population in and around coffee farms, which typically can cut many trees in order to increase yields from coffee crops. Because the Bird Friendly standards require organic certification, it also means that synthetic fertilizers and nearly all synthetic pesticides are prohibited.

Details

The rigorous standards behind the Bird Friendly label ensure that certified coffee farms integrate coffee cultivation into agroforestry systems and protect biodiversity (for example, by requiring a minimum canopy height and requiring some native species). In this way, the Bird Friendly label is a certified “shade grown” label. Studies have shown that shade-grown coffee farms have improved bird habitat, soil erosion control, carbon sequestration, natural pest control and improved pollination. Organic does not necessarily guarantee shade grown (while the organic standards state that organic production must conserve biodiversity, there are no specific requirements for maintaining tree canopy).

For More Information

Bird Friendly

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

Label Standards

Biodegrades Without Forming Microtoxins

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Somewhat Meaningful

Is the label verified?

No

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No1

Are the label standards publicly available?

No2

Is information about the organization publicly available?

No3

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No4

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Somewhat Meaningful

The "biodegrades without forming microtoxins” claim is somewhat meaningful but in some cases can be misleading. “Without forming microtoxins” seems to imply some benefit beyond “biodegrades” but is not well-defined, and is possibly misleading.

According to FTC guidance, “biodegradable” should be used to mean that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal. What a “reasonably short time” is depends on where the product is disposed. For products that go down the drain, like detergents and shampoos, FTC guidance states that “a reasonably short period of time” would be about the same time that it takes for sewage to be processed in wastewater treatment systems.

Of course, just because a product or ingredient is biodegradable does not mean it is healthy or safe for you or the environment. For example, DDT biodegrades to the compounds DDD and DDE, both of which are more toxic and more dangerous than the original DDT.

To learn more about what is meant by this term, as applied to a specific product, consumers must contact the manufacturer. If a manufacturer has solid scientific evidence demonstrating that the product will break down and decompose into non-toxic by-products found in nature in a short period of time, then claiming that it is “biodegradable without forming microtoxins” is not deceptive.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

No.

The FTC can investigate labels after they have been put on the market if they feel they are deceiving the consumer under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace. However, it does not routinely check or verify “biodegradable” claims.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

The label can have different meanings for different products, and “without forming microtoxins” is not defined

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

No.

There are no standards behind the label.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

No.

There is no independent organization behind the label.

 

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No.

There is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

The FTC sought public comments when its guidelines were developed.

This label is on Cleaning

LABEL CATEGORY

General Claims

There are no specific standards for biodegradable claims. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued general guidelines on how the term should be used. According to their guidance, biodegradable should mean that a product is degradable when exposed to air, moisture, bacteria or other organisms and that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal.

Details

There is no guidance regarding the use of the term “microtoxins.” At least some companies using this claim use it to refer to toxic substances that form after the substance biodegrades and combines with other substances in the environment. It may be considered by some to refer to microscopic toxins, although scientists generally use this term to refer to toxins produced by microbes (such as mold).

WHO VERIFIES THIS GENERAL CLAIM?
There is no organization that verifies the use of these claim other than the company manufacturing or marketing the product. The FTC has issued guidance on how the term “biodegradable” should be used, and took action in the early-mid 1990’s against several companies for making unsubstantiated, misleading, and/or deceptive biodegradable claims. However, the FTC has not issued guidance on use of the term “microtoxins.”

  1. The label can have different meanings for different products, and “without forming microtoxins” is not defined.
  2. There are no government or official standards for this term.
  3. There is no independent organization behind this label.
  4. There is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

Biodegradable Without Effluent Treatment Processes

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Somewhat Meaningful

Is the label verified?

No

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No

Are the label standards publicly available?

No

Is information about the organization publicly available?

No1

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No2

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes3

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Somewhat Meaningful

The "biodegradable without effluent treatment processes” claim is somewhat meaningful but in some cases can be misleading.

According to FTC guidance, “biodegradable” should be used to mean that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal. What a “reasonably short time” is depends on where the product is disposed. For products that go down the drain, like detergents and shampoos, FTC guidance states that “a reasonably short period of time” would be about the same time that it takes for sewage to be processed in wastewater treatment systems.

If a manufacturer has solid scientific evidence demonstrating that the product will break down and decompose into elements found in nature in a short period of time in systems that do not involve effluent treatment, then claiming that it is “biodegradable without effluent treatment processes” would not be deceptive.

Of course, just because a product or ingredient is biodegradable does not mean it is healthy or safe for you or the environment. For example, DDT biodegrades extremely slowly, and biodegrades to the compounds DDD and DDE, both of which are more toxic and more dangerous than the original DDT.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

No.

The FTC can investigate labels after they have been put on the market if they feel they are deceiving the consumer under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace. However, it does not routinely check or verify “biodegradable” claims.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

No.

There are no standards behind the label.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

No.

There is no independent organization behind the label.

 

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No.

There is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

the FTC sought public comments when its guidelines were developed.

This label is on Cleaning

LABEL CATEGORY

General Claims

There are no specific standards for the biodegradable claim. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued general guidelines on how the term should be used.

Details

According to their guidance, biodegradable should mean that a product is degradable when exposed to air, moisture, bacteria or other organisms and that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal. The phrase “without effluent treatment processes” is not well-defined, but most likely refers to disposal outside of urban areas, such as through a septic tank system, “gray water” system, or directly into a body of water or onto land. For other similar general claims, visit label records for "biodegradable" and "biodegrades without forming microtoxins."

WHO VERIFIES THIS GENERAL CLAIM?
There is no organization that verifies the use of these claims other than the company manufacturing or marketing the product. The FTC has issued guidance on how the term “biodegradable” should be used, and took action in the early-mid 1990’s against several companies for making unsubstantiated, misleading, and/or deceptive biodegradable claims. However, the FTC has not defined “without effluent treatment processes.”

  1. There is no independent organization behind this label.
  2. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.
  3. While there are no standards, the FTC sought public comments for its guidance on the claim.

Allergy Tested

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Not Meaningful

Is the label verified?

No

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No

Are the label standards publicly available?

No

Is information about the organization publicly available?

No

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No1

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

No

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Not Meaningful

The “allergy tested” label is not meaningful. Allergy tested is a general claim that implies a product was tested for allergic reactions on skin.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers are not required to perform any tests or provide supporting evidence to demonstrate that products labeled “allergy tested” produce fewer allergic reactions than other products. The FDA also states that nearly all cosmetics are likely to cause an allergic reaction in certain sensitive people.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrance is the number one cause of allergic reactions in cosmetics. AAD also states that there are over 5000 basic fragrances used in various cosmetic products including perfumes, colognes, skin care products, soaps, shampoos, lipsticks, sunscreens, and lotions. Preservatives are another example of a common trigger for allergic reactions in cosmetic products.

Since manufacturers are allowed to consider fragrances as trade secrets, the government does not require them to list the specific ingredients in a fragrance. As a result, consumers may not be able to identify the specific agent causing an allergic reaction from a cosmetic product.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

No.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the regulatory authority given by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics (FD&C) Act, can take action on products it deems “misbranded” (misleading to consumers) or adulterated (contaminated and potentially unsafe) after such products have already been marketed. However, FDA has not defined the term, and without any formal definition of “allergy tested,” it would be difficult for the FDA to take action against manufactures making such claims.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

The label can have different meanings for different products.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

There are no standards for the use of this label.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

No.

There is no organization that has established standards for this label.

 

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
.

No.

There is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

No.

This label is on Personal Care

LABEL CATEGORY

General Claims

WHO VERIFIES THIS GENERAL CLAIM?

There is no organization behind this claim other than the company manufacturing or marketing the product.The label can have different meanings for different products.

  • The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

Biodegradable

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Somewhat Meaningful

Is the label verified?

No

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No1

Are the label standards publicly available?

No2

Is information about the organization publicly available?

No3

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No4

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Somewhat Meaningful

The “biodegradable” claim is somewhat meaningful but in some cases can be misleading. Biodegradable is a general claim that implies that a product or its packaging will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal.

According to FTC guidance, the length of time it takes for a product to degrade may vary depending on where the product is disposed. For example, in landfills, where most garbage is taken, materials degrade very slowly, if at all. Landfills are designed by law to keep out sunlight, air and moisture, so as to prevent pollutants from getting into air and water.

On the other hand, a tree rootball container labeled “biodegradable” that is designed to be placed into the ground and which quickly disintegrates and biodegrades to allow the tree to grow would not be deceptive.

For products that go down the drain, such as detergents and shampoos, FTC guidance states that “a reasonably short period of time” would be about the same time that it takes for sewage to be processed in wastewater treatment systems. Most surfactants, the major components of cleaning products, have been tested by many and found to be biodegradable.

Of course, just because a product or ingredient is biodegradable does not mean it is healthy or safe for you or the environment. For example, DDT biodegrades to the compounds DDD and DDE, both of which are more toxic and more dangerous than the original DDT.

To learn more about what is meant by this term, as applied to a specific product, consumers must contact the manufacturer. If a manufacturer has solid scientific evidence demonstrating that the product will break down and decompose into by-products found in nature in a short period of time, then claiming that it is “biodegradable” is not deceptive.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

No.

The FTC can investigate labels after they have been put on the market if they feel they are deceiving the consumer, under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace. However, the FTC does not routinely check or verify “biodegradable” claims.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

The label can have different meanings for different products.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

There are no standards behind the label.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

There is no independent organization behind the label.

 

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
.

No.

There is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

The FTC sought public comments when its guidelines were developed.

This label is on Cleaning

LABEL CATEGORY

General Claims

There are no specific standards for the biodegradable claim. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued general guidelines on how the term should be used. According to their guidance, biodegradable should mean that a product is degradable when exposed to air, moisture, bacteria or other organisms and that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal.

Details

According to their guidance, biodegradable should mean that a product is degradable when exposed to air, moisture, bacteria or other organisms and that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short time after customary disposal.

WHO VERIFIES THIS GENERAL CLAIM?
There is no organization that verifies the use of the claim other than the company manufacturing or marketing the product. The FTC has issued guidance on how the term should be used, and took action in the early-mid 1990’s against several companies for making unsubstantiated, misleading, and/or deceptive biodegradable claims. But neither the FTC nor any other organization certifies that the claim is used correctly or truthfully.The label is somewhat meaningful for Household Cleaners but not meaningful for Kitchen, Children and Recreational Products.

  1. The label can have different meanings for different products.
  2. There are no standards behind the label.
  3. There is no independent organization behind the label.
  4. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.

Bactericidal (household cleaners)

Posted by
How Meaningful is this label

Somewhat1

Is the label verified?

Yes2

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No3

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

READ MORE
What This Label Means

Somewhat Meaningful

A bactericidal claim on Household Products is somewhat meaningful. EPA requires companies to submit information on household cleaners (including disinfectants and sanitizers, excluding dishwashing detergent) that make an bactericidal claim, and EPA reviews the information, to ensure that the active ingredient (the one that works against bacteria) meets required safety and effectiveness tests, and that the product is labeled properly. However, there have been reports of products not working as claimed, so the system is not foolproof. In response, EPA has tested products used in hospitals, but has not tested products used in the home.

A bactericidal claim on Kitchen, Children and Recreational Products is not meaningful. In fact, such claims are not permitted. Contact the EPA and FTC if you encounter an “bactericidal” claim on sponges, toilet seats, toys, or other treated articles.

Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

READ MORE
Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

EPA requires manufacturers of household cleaners that make an bactericidal, antibacterial, or similar type of “kills germs” claim to meet standards set by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which requires that the product will not cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment. Thus the product must be safe. EPA requires manufacturers to submit detailed and specific information concerning the chemical composition of their product, toxicology data documenting any hazards associated with use of the product, effectiveness data provided by the registrant (manufacturer of the active ingredient) to document their claims against specific microorganisms, and labeling that reflects most of the required elements of safe and effective use.

READ MORE
Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

Since different bactericidal agents in household cleaners could be used that have varying levels of safety and effectiveness against variable numbers or types of microbes. Bactericidal claims for Kitchen, Children and Recreational Products exist but are not permitted.

READ MORE
Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

All laws and government standards and policies are publicly available.

READ MORE
Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

Information about government agencies is available (by phone, through publications, and through their websites).

 

READ MORE
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Yes, in that it is a government agency

READ MORE
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input??

Yes.

 

This label is on Cleaning

LABEL CATEGORY

General Claims

Bactericidal describes a substance(s) or product that kills bacteria, generally in/on foods, inanimate surfaces, or hands. It is similar to the term antibacterial and antimicrobial, which describe a substance(s) or product that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria, generally in/on foods, inanimate surfaces, or hands.

Details

EPA regulates the use of this claim on household cleaning products, kitchen products such as sponges and cutting boards, children's products and recreational products such as tents. Antimicrobial/bactericidal claims mean different things on different products (discussion of this term on personal care products). Technically, bactericial are considered by EPA and FDA to be a subset of antimicrobial.

HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS
EPA regulates all household cleaning products and laundry detergents that claim to have bactericidal or antimicrobial properties except dishwashing soap is an exception to this general rule (see below). EPA classifies the active ingredient—that is, the ingredient that works to kill or reduce the microorganisms—as a pesticide and requires it to undergo safety and effectiveness testing prior to marketing, and the active ingredient to be identified on the label. EPA considers additional claims on bactericidal labeled products such as "non-toxic" or "all natural" to be false or misleading. In addition, EPA does not routinely review efficacy (effectiveness) data for products that make odor-resistant claims, although the manufacturer is supposed to generate this information and keep it on file.

EPA also regulates household cleaners that make bactericidal claims and also claim to be disinfectants or sanitizers. The label of household disinfectants must indicate whether the product is effective only against one specific group of microorganisms or against a broad spectrum of microorganisms (in which case it may be called a “general” disinfectant).

Dishwashing soaps that claim to be "bactericidal" would normally be considered to be household cleaners and therefore be regulated by EPA. However, to date, EPA has not registered nor reviewed any bactericidal dishwashing soaps even though there are many "bactericidal" dish soaps on the market. Based on our research, it appears that these bactericidal dishwashing soaps are actually classified and labeled by the manufacturer as hand soaps, which means they are personal hygiene products and fall under the authority of the FDA. Since FDA has no current testing requirement in place for bactericidal active ingredients, these "bactericidal" labeled dishwashing products are not tested for safety or effectiveness.

Detergents, including laundry detergents, that make bactericidal claims are regulated by EPA and must display the EPA registration number.

KITCHEN, CHILDREN'S, AND RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS
Bactericidal / antimicrobial claims are also increasingly appearing on products such as sponges, cutting boards, and toys. EPA theoretically regulates these kinds of products where the product itself is treated with substances designed to kill bacteria or other microbes in the product and where the products that claim to protect more than the product itself. However, EPA has not approved any treated products to make any public health claims, to date, since according to EPA, there is no evidence that these products prevent the spread of germs and bacteria in people. Nevertheless, these types of unauthorized claims are being made. Besides being unlawful, EPA is concerned that they may be potentially harmful to the public, since if people believe that a product has a self-sanitizing quality, they may not wash or follow proper hygienic practices to prevent the transmission of harmful germs.

If you see a sponge, toy, or other kitchen or children's products that makes any of the following “bactericidal” claims, these claims are illegal. You can report this to the Federal Trade Commission (see below for how):
-- Antibacterial
-- Bactericidal
-- Germicidal
-- Kills pathogenic bacteria.
-- Effective against E. coli and Staphylococcus.
-- Reduces the risk of food-borne illness from bacteria.
-- Provides a germ-resistant surface.
-- Provides a bacteria-resistant surface.
-- Surface kills common gram positive and negative bacteria.
-- Surface controls both gram positive and negative bacteria.
-- Surface minimizes the growth of both gram positive and negative bacteria.
-- Reduces risk of cross-contamination from bacteria.
-- Controls allergy causing microorganisms.
-- Improves indoor air quality through the reduction of microorganisms.

EPA does allow some treated products to be labeled as “resists the growth of mold/mildew,” or “kills germs that cause odor.” However, EPA is concerned that some products such as sponges, that are used in the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas where disease-causing organisms may be present can give the false impression that the sponge or other article provides protection against food-borne and disease-causing bacteria. According to EPA, this potential for a false impression should be addressed through additional labeling such as “This product does not protect users or others against bacteria, viruses, germs or other disease organisms. Always clean this product thoroughly after each use.”

Some critics think that bactericidal / antimicrobial claims even when truthful are playing on consumers' fears. They advise consumers not to buy these products except in unusual circumstances. Stuart Levy, M.D., president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and a researcher in the field, believes that antibacterial products should only be used by hospitals, sick people coming home from the hospital, and those with compromised immune systems. “Good soap and water is sufficient in most cases,” Levy says. Overuse of antibacterial substances can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to them, which is a problem for public health.

The long-term safety of triclosan, a widely used antibacterial in personal care products, and its effectiveness in products other than toothpaste is particularly controversial. EPA has registered triclosan as a pesticide, but Lester Crawford, Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, stated in October 2002, “In 1974, our agency published the recommendations of its advisory panel on over-the-counter antimicrobial drug products. Among other findings the panel … identified triclosan as one of the ingredients of antimicrobial products that lacked sufficient evidence of safety and effectiveness. … The FDA still is looking for data on the long-term health effects of triclosan, and at present there is no joint effort to trace the effect, if any, of antiseptic products on antimicrobial resistance. … consumers and health care professionals are not as fully protected as they deserve, expect, and have the right to be.”

In the meantime, FDA has taken no action against use of Triclosan. Triclosan may also impact the environment. Triclosan has been found in the majority of surface waters tested for pollutants from common household chemical products. There is some evidence that triclosan adversely affects freshwater algae. Other studies indicate that it can be converted by sunlight into a member of the dioxin family.

  1. The label is somewhat meaningful for Household Cleaners but not meaningful for Kitchen, Children and Recreational Products.
  2. The EPA does require cleaning product manufacturers to submit safety and efficacy testing results to EPA for approval in order to use the bactericidal claim.
  3. Different bactericidal agents could be used that have varying levels of safety and effectiveness against variable numbers or types of microbes.