Tag Archives: truth in labeling

Safe Cosmetics Act Would Create Package Labeling Nightmare

Clearly the sponsors of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 have never had to design a packaging label for a personal care product. Otherwise, they would realize that requiring cosmetic makers to list almost every chemical (yes, chemical, not just ingredients) in a product would result in a package labeling nightmare.

Section 613 of H.R. 5786 would require all chemicals, including “detectable” trace elements, to be listed on the ingredients label of a personal care product. That means that a product containing water, for instance, would be required to list water on its ingredient label, as well as every other trace element found inside the water. This might include trace elements such as as copper, nickel, lead, and silver, depending on the source of the water and how it has been filtered. Water, like most natural ingredients used in personal care products, contains dozens of chemicals. Many of these chemicals are trace elements.

Lela Barker of Bella Luccè regularly orders labels for her all-natural, non-toxic bath and body products line from us. In a fantastic blog post about her recent trip to Capital Hill to voice her opposition to opposition to H.R. 5786, she gave a perfect illustration of how this bill would affect product labels in her industry. If Lela was to put a  massage bar on the market tomorrow made with just three ingredients, she wrote, the label would look like this:

Olive Oil, Cocoa Butter, Lavendar Oil.

Under the proposed legislation, the ingredients label for the same exact massage bar would look like this:

Olive Oil (Tri-Glycerides of Palmitic, Di-Glycerides of Palmitic, Palmitoleic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic, Arachidic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Squalene, Beta Carotene, Campesterol, Methylenecholesterol, Stigmasterol, Sitosterol, Fucosterol, 28-Isofucosterol, Stigmadienol, Brassicasterol, 7-Cholestenol,Ergostadienol, Avenasterol, Triterpene Alcohols, Tirucallol, Taraxerol, Dammaradienol Beta-Amyrin Germanicol, Butyrospermol, Parkeol, Cycloartenol, Tirucalladienol, 4-Methlene 24-Dihydroparkeol, 24-Methlenecycloartanol, Cyclobranol, 4-Methyl Sterols, Esters of Tyrosol, Esters of Hydroxytyrosol, Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Carotenoids, Oleuropein), Cocoa Butter (Tri and Diglycerides of Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Lead, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Isoleic Acid, Beta Carotene, p-Hydroxybenzoic Acid, Vanillic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Syringic Acid, Phenylehtylamine, Theophylline, Aliphatic Esters, Aromatic Carbonyls, Caffeine, Theobromine, Diketopiperazines and Alkylpryazines), Lavender Essential Oil ( Cineole Octanol, Octanone, Alpha Bisabolol, Alpha Cadinol, Alpha Humelene, Alpha Phellandrene, Apha Pinene, Alpha Terpinene, Alpha Terpineol, Alpha Terpinyl Acetate, Alpha Thujene, Alpha Thujone, Beta Bisabolol, Beta Pinene, Beta Thujone, Borneol, Bornyl Acetate, Camphene Camphor, Cineolealpha Terpineol, Carvone, Caryophyllene, Carophyllene Oxide, CIS Alpha Terpineol, CIS Alpha Bisabolene, CIS Carveol, CIA Linalol Epoxide, CIS Ocimene, Citronellal, Citronellol, Coumarine, Cuminaldehyde, Eugenol, Furfural, Geraniol, Geranyl Acetate, Geranyl Butyrate, Hexanol, Hexyl Tiglate, Isoborneol, Lavandulol, Lavandulyl Acetate, Limonene, Linanlol, Linalyl Acetate, Methyl Heptenone, Myrcene, Nerol, Neryl Acetate, Oleanolic Acid, P Cymene, Rosemarinic Acid, Sabinen, Terpinenol, Terpinolene, Trans Carveol, Trans Epoxy Linalyl Acetate, Trans Linanol Epoxide, Trans Ocimene, Ursolic Acid).

Currently, the largest die we have in stock cuts labels that are 10.25 by 16.75 inches, and we can custom order dies for labels up to 11.5 by 17.5 inches. Even though this means we can print labels larger than a sheet of legal size paper, that wouldn’t be large enough for many of the personal care products we currently print ingredients labels for under the proposed legislation. But a letter size label, 8.5 by 11 inches, would be large enough to list the ingredients for Lela’s hypothetical massage bar. There would even be room to list information about how to use the product, list its name, and maybe even squeeze in the company logo and some fancy artwork as well. Isn’t that great? Well, it would be … if there was a market for massage bars as big as sheets of notebook paper.

And this is just the beginning of the packaging nightmare … don’t even get me started on how many of our customers will end up throwing away product labels they can no longer use and deplete their resources finding new packaging containers big enough for the labels they will have to have redesigned and reprinted in order to meet the proposed ingredient labeling requirements.

If the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 passes as written, however, all this talk about being forced to perform packaging design acrobatics will be a mute point. You see, we won’t have to worry much about producing ridiculously oversized ingredients labels for our many wonderful customers who produce natural bath and body products and safe cosmetics if this bill becomes law. Because most of them, sadly, will not be able to afford to stay in business if this bill becomes law. That, my dear readers, is the true nightmare that will be experienced by small business owners who maker personal care products if HR 5786 is passed.

Related Posts

Safe Cosmetics Act Threatens Future of Small Businesses – Lightning Labels

Indie Beauty Network Opposes HR 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 – Indie Beauty Network

A Hot Date with HR 5786 – Sweet Libertine Mineral Cosmetics

Official Position on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 – Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 is Not the Solution – The Grapeseed Company

New Labeling Requirements for Light Bulb Packaging Win-Win for Consumers, Environment


New labeling requirements will make it easier for consumers to conserve both energy and cash when it comes to buying light bulbs. It will also enable them to more accurately compare the brightness of different types of lighting. The Federal Trade Commission’s ruling that requires new labeling on light bulb packaging will go into
effect mid-2011. It means that front-of-package labels will be required to feature the estimated annual energy cost for that particular type of bulb as well as indicate the brightness of the bulb in terms of lumens.

Currently, most consumers rely on wattage measurements to compare the brightness and costs in terms of energy use when shopping for light bulbs. Even thought the wattage measurements of light bulbs have been indicated on front-of-package labels for decades, watts are actually a measurement of energy use, not brightness. The new labeling will make it easier for shoppers to compare traditional incandescent bulbs with newer high-efficiency compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) ones.

lightbulb_label_factsThe new back-of-package “Lighting Facts” labels (see example at right), which are modeled on the “Nutrition Facts” labels on food packaging will provide information on the bulb’s life expectancy, appearance, and wattage. The labels will also indicate if bulbs contain mercury. The Lighting Facts labels will repeat the information on brightness and energy cost found on the front-of-package
labeling. Lumen measurements and mercury disclosures (where applicable) will be required to be printed directly on light bulbs under the new ruling.

Safe Cosmetics Act Threatens Future of Small Businesses

HR 5786, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week with the intention to keep potentially harmful ingredients out of of Americans’ personal care products. Sounds like a good thing, right? If so, why is this bill so controversial?

“Harmful chemicals have no place in the products we put on our bodies or on our children’s bodies,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in a statement released to the press on HR 5786 by Schakowsky and the other sponsors of the bill,  Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc. “Our cosmetics laws are woefully out of date—manufacturers aren’t even required to disclose all their ingredients on labels, leaving Americans unknowingly exposed to harmful mystery ingredients. This bill will finally protect those consumers.”

Schakowksy is certainly right about cosmetics laws being due for an overhaul. The last time they were updated was in 1938. Under current law, the cosmetics industry is responsible for governing the safety of the ingredients in its own products. The new law, if passed, would transfer this responsibility to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Again, why would updating cosmetics laws this old be a point of contention?

Because the bill as it currently stands places unrealistic requirements on small businesses who make bath and beauty products. This is ironic, as many of the small business owners that buy labels from us for their bath and beauty products started their businesses because product safety was their primary concern. They couldn’t find personal care products that they felt good about letting their families use on store shelves, so they created their own.

There are many parts of the bill that will result in a great deal of paperwork that will burden most small business owners. Section 614, Cosmetic and Ingredient Testing and Safety, however, is the most troubling piece of the proposed legislation. It contains requirements that will utterly crush small businesses if this bill passes as it is currently written. Here’s what it says:


‘(a) Publicly Available Cosmetic and Ingredient Test Data-


‘(A) INITIAL SUBMISSION- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, manufacturers and distributors of cosmetics and ingredients shall submit to the Secretary (in an electronic format that the Secretary shall determine) all reasonably available information in the possession or control of the manufacturer or distributor that has not previously been submitted to the Secretary regarding the physical, chemical, and toxicological properties of single or multiple chemicals listed on the cosmetic labels under section 613, including–

‘(i) functions and uses;

‘(ii) exposure and fate information;

***‘(iii) tests of finished cosmetics; and

‘(iv) any other information used to substantiate the safety of such cosmetics or ingredients.

Under current law, cosmetics manufacturers can use any ingredient currently approved by the FDA. The Safe Cosmetics Act, however, would require every personal care product made to be independently tested, including ones made exclusively of ingredients already approved by the FDA. This requirement would suck up a lot of small business owners’ time, slow their product to market launch time, an undoubtedly result in additional reams of paperwork. Most notable, however, is that it would cost businesses a lot of money to meet the testing requirements. It would require more money than small business owners have. These required testing fees would put many small businesses out of business for good.

With testing fees starting at $25,000 per product and 130 eyeshadow colors in her product line, Sarah Waller, founding owner of Sweet Libertine Mineral Cosmetics, wrote on her blog that this part of the Safe Cosmetics Act would require her to spend $3,250,000 to be able to sell a jar of $5 eyeshadow. Sarah’s writeup on the Safe Cosmetics Act, by the way, is fabulous. She goes through the entire ten-page bill, explaining in clear and simple terms how each section would impact her and other small business owners if it became law. I highly suggest reading her analysis of HR 5786 for yourself.

Then, if you would like to see what one of the bill’s most powerful supporters is saying about HR 5786, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.

Finally, I encourage you to let your legislators know whether or not you support this piece of legislation and why. Anyone who buys American-made personal care products would be affected by the Safe Cosmetics Act. That said, I especially encourage the small business owners reading this who make bath and beauty products to let lawmakers know how it would personally affect you, your business, and your customers. In addition to contacting your legislators, I encourage you to consider signing the petition opposing the Safe Cosmetics Act started by the The Indie Beauty Network. Many of our customers who make bath and body products are involved with The Indie Beauty Network, which recently launched a new website dedicated to the opposition of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.

And of course, please feel free to share your opinions and business stories in the comments below. We print a lot of beautiful bath and body product labels for some really great people here at Lightning Labels. It would truly be a sad day to see that stop happening because a law that was supposedly designed to protect the average American forced thousands of small business owners to close their doors.

Whole Foods Market Raises the Bar for Organic Bath & Beauty Product Makers

Whole Foods Market suppliers have less than a year to certify personal care products labeled as “organic” to the the same standards that organic food is currently certified under US law. The deadline for submitting their plans for compliance, however, is only a month away.

As of June 1, 2011, all personal care products labeled as “organic” and “made with organic ingredients” must be certified to the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) standard in order to sold in its US stores, the Austin-based organic grocery chain announced earlier this month on its corporate website. Products labeled as “contains organic ingredients” will be required to be certified by the consensus-based industry standard NSF 305 ANSI Standard for Organic Personal Care Products.

The USDA is not expected to mandate certification for non-food products making organic claims. So why is Whole Foods raising the bar for its suppliers? The answer is simple: Its customers expect it.

“At Whole Foods Market, our shoppers do not expect the definition of organic to change substantially between the food and non-food aisles of our stores,” explained Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “We believe that the ‘organic’ claim used on personal care products should have just as strong a meaning to the ‘organic’ claim used on food products, which is currently regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program.”

I would love to hear from suppliers who will be affected by the new organic labeling requirements for bath and body products, cosmetics, and other personal care items currently labeled as organic. Are you planning to continue to selling your products in Whole Foods stores? Do you think Whole Foods is doing the right thing? And do you think the August 1 deadline for submitting your plans for compliance to Whole Foods is reasonable?

For more information about the new labeling requirements for products making organic claims, visit Whole Food’s blog, The Whole Story.

Related Posts

Government Labeling Requirements

Beautiful Beauty Labels

Senate Bill Calls for Commercial Cleaning Products to Fully Disclose Ingredients


Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has introduced a bill requiring household cleaning products such as furniture polish and laundry detergent to fully disclose all ingredients on their product labels, including chemicals that might be hazardous to the long-term health of both humans and the environment. Cleaning product labels are currently required by law to contain warnings designed to prevent short-term harm due to swallowing, contact with eyes, and other unintended uses.

“Moms and dads have a right to know whether harmful chemicals are present in their kitchen cupboards,” Franken stated in a press release about Bill S. 1697. “When my wife Franni and I were raising our own kids, we were constantly concerned with what we used to wash their cribs, their pacifiers, the floors, and surfaces they played on. This is just a common-sense measure to help parents keep their kids safe and healthy.”

The “Household Product Labelling Act of 2009″  would also help consumers make more informed decisions about purchasing household products containing ingredients that are safe for most people, but can be major irritants for adults and children with health conditions such as asthma. The proposed legislation would make such information readily available to consumers.

According to the packaging news website Packworld.com, the bill is popular among environmental groups and children’s health organizations; and is viewed as “unneccessary and potentially confusing” by the cleaning products industry. The Soap and Detergent Association, for one, is concerned that there is not enough room to put additional information on their members’ product labels. The association is promoting a voluntary initiative as an alternative to the bill that would encourage manufacturers to point consumers towards websites and 800 numbers for further information if they did not have room to list all ingredients on their product labels.

You can track the progress of the Household Product Labeling Act of 2009 at OpenCongress.

Related Posts

Baldwin’s Bill Paves Way for Product Carbon Disclosure, Labeling in US
Wal-Mart to Develop Universal Sustainability Labeling System
Carbon Footprint Labeling is Coming
Carbon Footprint Labeling

Baldwin’s Bill Paves Way for Product Carbon Disclosure, Labeling in US

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has proposed legislation that would pave the way for product carbon disclosure and labeling in the US.

“Nutrition labels have changed the way we think about food – giving us the measurements we need to make fully-informed, healthy choices,” Baldwin said in a press release issued by her office Sept. 11. “Carbon disclosure will tell us how much energy is used to bring a product to market – allowing us to make smart, energy-saving, and environmentally-friendly choices.”

Bill H.R. 3543 would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initially conduct a study to establish a national program for measuring, reporting, and labeling the carbon content of products in the US. The agency would then be required to set up a national product carbon disclosure and labeling program based on the results of the study. Participation in the program would be voluntary, similar to other voluntary labeling programs such as ENERGY STAR.

The ultimate goal of carbon labeling is to empower consumers to help reduce carbon emissions by choosing products with smaller carbon footprints over competing ones that use up more of our natural resources. The full text of H.R. 3543 can be read at THOMAS, the Library of Congress’ website; or through the independent research websites GovTrack.us and Open Congress.

This is the first piece of legislation introduced in the US to promote product carbon disclosure and labeling. However, the concepts themselves are not new. In October, Lightning Labels predicted that carbon footprint labeling would become standard fare on product labels within the decade, if not sooner, after UK supermarket giant Tesco launched a major trial of carbon footprint labeling on some of its private label brands in cooperation with the Carbon Trust. And in July, Wal-Mart announced plans to develop a universal sustainability product labeling sytem.

Related Posts

Wal-Mart to Develop Universal Sustainability Labeling System
Carbon Footprint Labeling is Coming
Carbon Footprint Labeling

Wal-Mart To Develop Universal Sustainability Product Labeling System


Yesterday the world’s largest retailer announced a plan to develop a universal sustainability product index.

“Customers want products that are more efficient, that last longer and perform better,” Wal-Mart President and CEO Mike Duke said in a meeting with 1,500 of its supplies, associates and sustainability leaders at its home office outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. “And increasingly they want information about the entire lifecycle of a product so they can feel good about buying it. They want to know that the materials in the product are safe, that it was made well and that it was produced in a responsible way.”

Consumers also want to be able to access such information conveniently, which is why the final step of Wal-Mart’s plan is to produce a simple rating tool such as a numeric score or color code. The tool will allow consumers to compare the environmental and social sustainability of competing products simply by glancing at their product labels, similar to the way they are currently able to compare the healthiness of food products against each other using nutritional labels.

Sustainability product labels would reflect how environmentally and socially sustainable products are over the course of their life cycles based on how close they come to meeting four broad goals:

  • Reducing energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing waste
  • Producing high quality,responsibly sourced raw materials
  • Ensuring responsible and ethical production

In October, Lightning Labels predicted that carbon footprint labeling would become standard fare on product labels within the decade, if not sooner, after UK supermarket giant Tesco launched a major trial of carbon footprint labeling on some of its private label brands in cooperation with the Carbon Trust. With major retailers Tesco and Wal-Mart leading the way on both sides of the pond now, it appears that consumers can expect to see carbon footprint labeling on most product labels sooner rather than later.

Related Resources
Wal-Mart Sustainability Meeting Webcast
Carbon Footprint Labeling is Coming
Carbon Footprint Labeling

Carbon Footprint Labels Come to Australia

Image-469-crl-whc Last year I wrote about the new carbon footprint labels that have begun appearing on products in the UK. Well now the same organization, Carbon Trust, is partnering with the Australian environmental organization, Planet Ark, to introduce carbon footprint labels into Australia.

So why is this significant? It shows a growing interest that consumers have in knowing the total environmental impact of their product choices. In the UK, there are more than 2,500 individual product lines carrying these carbon footprint labels as companies see the advantages of sharing this information with their customers. It will only be a matter of time before such a program gets some traction in this country.

I expect within the next two years we will see a major initiative like this undertaken in the US. The most challenging hurdles will be in creating standards to measure each component of a product and its packaging. I wrote about Fat Tire Beer and their complete carbon footprint measurement project – the report ran to 37 pages.

Regardless of the complexity, this movement is inevitable and the companies that become the first to share the environmental impact of their products will be seen as the leaders. Of course, this information will have to take up valuable label real estate which will create another challenge for designers of product labels.

Related Links

Carbon Trust

Planet Ark

Carbon Reduction Label Australia

Carbon Footprint of Fat Tire Beer

Carbon Footprint Labeling is Coming


The large UK retailer Tesco has become the world’s first supermarket chain to launch a major trial of carbon footprint labeling on some of its private label brands. But first a definition – what exactly is carbon footprint labeling? It is an attempt to measure the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the life of a product including production, use and disposal.

Right now there are no regulations anywhere in the world demanding companies include this information with their product labels. But many companies aren’t waiting.Tesco, in partnership with the Carbon Trust (a UK government funded organization dedicated to reducing carbon emissions), developed this pilot carbon footprint labeling system. The GHG emissions are given as carbon dioxide equivalents in order to provide a comparison of the total environmental impact of a product. Tesco included their store brand orange juice, light bulbs, potatoes, and laundry detergent in this initial trial. They have recently announced plans to label all products on their shelves with these carbon footprint labels, although no timetable has been set.

If Tesco really follows through with this it will be huge. It means that every company supplying products to Tesco will have to measure the carbon footprint of its products. I can’t even begin to imagine the complications and expense this will cause many companies. It reminds me of Wal-Mart’s Sustainable Packaging Scorecard which began earlier this year and is really driving sustainable packaging forward. There will be challenges along the way but companies like Wal-Mart and Tesco are so big they can dictate rules in this area that can really create permanent change.

I expect that some form of carbon footprint labeling will become standard fare on product labels within a decade and probably sooner. Once a formula is agreed upon all companies will just measure their carbon footprint in a similar way to how they measure profits today, and it will become second nature. Then consumers will be able to make truly informed choices. Do I want this expensive laundry detergent with a low carbon footprint or the cheap one that has a high carbon footprint?

Of course, this will mean valuable product label real estate will need to be devoted to this carbon footprint information. But we will all adapt. Food manufacturers adapted to the mandatory nutritional information on food products and consumers now find this information invaluable. With carbon footprint labeling we will not only be able to make choices for the benefit of our own health, but for the health of the entire planet.

More People Are Reading Food Labels


Natural Products Insider recently published an article about food labels, describing how more consumers are spending more time reading food labels than ever before. A report put out by the Hartman Group found that 61% of consumers are reading labels more than before, and half that total are reading labels much more frequently. People are mostly concerned with nutrition and food safety as they attempt to comprehend what they are really buying.

This is actually good news for businesses in the food industry. People want to read your labels, so good design is more important than ever. My feature story in our latest newsletter describes ten elements of good label design, but designers of food labels need to focus on a couple of extra issues. Remember, people are studying your ingredient list. It needs to be easy to find and easy to read. This means no fancy fonts and certainly no tiny print. Make it large enough that a person with reasonable eyesight can read it without difficulty. Black or dark type on a light colored background will work best. Also, your nutrition information needs to meet the standards of the FDA.

The good news is that if you have high quality, healthy ingredients you will have a leg up on the mass produced competition. And with the high quality digital label printing you get from Lightning Labels you have another advantage over your competition. Just make sure your ingredient list and nutrition information is easily readable and you will give your potential customers every reason to put your product into their shopping cart.