Last week, NSF International, a global public health and safety organization, publicized its partnership withPersonal care products NATRUE, the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association, for the “first American national standard for natural personal care products.” But it’s not the first natural personal care certification, the Natural Products Association (NPA) quickly pointed out: It’s the first natural standard accredited the American National Standards Institute. Confusing? Depends who you ask.


Start with the NPA, which has a vested interest in NSF's new label: In 2008, the NPA launched its natural personal care certification—the Natural Standard for Personal Care—and in early 2010 was the one working with NATRUE on an international equivalency agreement for natural personal care (a collaboration that ended abruptly for unspecified reasons, according to the NPA). Now, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit argues that another natural label, which retailers and consumers can expect to see on store shelves in 18 to 24 months, in the personal care market will only add to industry uncertainty. “They’re not clarifying for the consumer, they’re confusing the consumer,” says Cara Welch, PhD, NPA’s director of scientific and regulatory affairs.  “For a long time, the USDA took care of the organic category, NSF had the “made with organic” category with NSF/ANSI 305, and the NPA Natural Seal addressed natural. Each had its own category and didn’t get in the other’s area.”