Following a report linking chemicals (parabens) in deodorant with breast tumours, the Soil Association - the UK's leading certifier of organic products - is reassuring the public that such chemicals are not permitted in healthcare products that carry its symbol. Aluminium and zirconium, which have also been found in human breast tumours, are similarly not allowed under the Soil Association's standards.
Parabens are the most widely used chemical preservatives around the world and are used in a number of products such as baby lotions, children's shampoos, hair conditioners, hair styling gels, nail creams, foundations, facial masks, skin creams, and deodorants.
Under Soil Association standards, natural preservatives and antibacterial ingredients are encouraged. Natural preservatives, which have been used for centuries, include honey, sugar and alcohol. Plant extracts can also be used such as rose, cinnamon, cloves, calendula and vanilla. To prevent the fast spread of bacteria, natural processes are allowed, such as heat treatment, removing oxygen through vacuum packing, and ensuring a low water content. A few chemical preservatives are allowed, but on a restricted basis and not if there are known concerns about health effects.
Traci Lewis, Business Development Manager with Soil Association Certification Ltd said: ''Consumers have a right to products that are safe - but they also expect them to be effective. With so many people now eating organic food, there is huge potential for a wide range of organic beauty products to be developed.''
The Soil Association's standards for health and beautycare products were launched in 2002 after three years' of development involving industry experts. The standards aim to provide consumers with products that are as natural as possible, with minimum processing. No petro-chemicals or GM ingredients are allowed and products must contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients (excluding water). Products that are certified by the Soil Association carry the widely recognised Soil Association symbol.
Currently the number of Soil Association certified organic products is relatively small, which is why the organisation is doing all it can to encourage companies to research alternative processes and formulations. This will result in a wider range of safer and organic options being made available to the public.
A list of companies licensed with the organisation is available from http://www.soilassociation.org/healthandbeauty.
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