Natural or Not? – Reading The Label

Make sure the product label means what you think it does

Looking for natural products in your favorite stores? Whether it’s what you eat, what you put on your body or what you use in your home, you may want to go natural, for yourself and for your grandkids. But how can you tell if the cosmetics or cleaning products on store shelves are the level of “natural” that you want?

First, you should know that the companies that make these products are the ones that decide whether they can be called natural. There is no legal definition of the word “natural.” So the Natural Products Association (NPA) is helping consumers easily identify products that are truly “natural” with the NPA Natural Seal.

The first and only natural certification in the United States, the Natural Seal certifies both products and ingredients that meet NPA’s high standard of natural. Personal care and home care products with the Natural Seal are at least 95 percent natural — excluding water.

All NPA-certified products have been audited and verified by an independent third party. Among other requirements, NPA-certified products use natural ingredients, avoid ingredients with health risks, don’t use animal testing, and do include a majority of biodegradable or recycled material in the packaging. NPA-certified products use natural ingredients from a source found in nature.

In addition, products with the Natural Seal must list all ingredients on the package label. NPA also requires 100 percent natural fragrances for personal care products. More than 700 products and ingredients have been certified natural.

Here are some tips to help you find natural products:

Read the label. Ingredients are the most important key to whether or not a product is truly natural. Avoid ingredients like parabens, phthalates, synthetic polymers and silicones.

Do your research. NPA’s website lists all of the natural products by company that have earned the Natural Seal. Visit www.TheNaturalSeal.org.

Tell your friends. Let them know about the Natural Seal and how it helps identify whether a product is truly natural. Find local stores that sell natural products at www.NPAinfo.org/storelocator.

You can connect with the Natural Seal on social media, such as the NPA Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/NPANaturalSeal and Twitter feed @NPANaturalSeal for the latest updates.

Dr. Cara Welch is Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at Natural Products Association (NPA). Dr. Welch oversees NPA’s quality assurance programs, including the NPA Natural Seal and GMP certification for dietary supplements. Dr. Welch assists natural product industry members to implement policies in response to government initiatives in the regulatory arena, and works with officials in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies whose actions have a direct impact on the natural products industry. She advises NPA members on regulatory, safety, nutrition and health issues, and works with other industry groups, academia and the media. Dr. Welch earned her Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry at Rutgers University.

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