Thanks to modern technology, a diversity of products from all around the globe are widely available. Most average people understand that there are places in the world where consumer protection may be low, pollution may be high, and production practices may be focused on profit vs quality or purity. Some people believe ingredients that are in their natural state yield the most reliable benefits with the least risk of unknown long term adverse effects. However, consumers may not have the ability to research every ingredient used in the products they buy.
The United States Department of Agriculture National Organics Program (USDA NOP) was created as a set of standards for certifying the integrity of agricultural products and non-agricultural ingredients that may be added to agricultural products destined for human consumption.
In order to be USDA Certified Organic, a product must be documented as managed according to the rules of the NOP, starting with seeds and ending with the final steps of preparation for consumer use.
There is a list of substances that are considered not healthy for humans which are prohibited, severely restricted, or can only be used at certain times of the growing or processing cycle. Non-agricultural ingredients must be documented as not having come in contact with any prohibited substances.
Handlers and processors like Flowersong Soap Studio purchase certified ingredients only from suppliers who can provide the proper documentation. Handlers and processors are required to prevent contamination of the ingredients during their operations. The prevention of contamination of organic ingredients means that
- organic materials are segregated and protected from conventional ones
- special cleaning rules are applied to equipment that comes in contact with organic materials
- all recipes and formulas must contain approved ingredients
- finished products must be protected as they are handed off to consumers
Organic processors must monitor their suppliers annually to ensure continued compliance with organic standards is in place. Changes to formulas or suppliers and any new formulas must be approved prior to offering products as organic.
USDA Organic standards create a “chain of organic integrity” that can be relied upon by consumers who desire the most natural products possible while experiencing the rich diversity of nature’s bounty from around the world.