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Dr. Bronner’s v. organic “cheaters”

This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet

Executive Summary

Defendants including Hain Celestial (Jason, Avalon), Kiss My Face, Giovanni and French certifier Ecocert will be asked to explain "precisely what the term 'organic' means to them as they use it in their branding and marketing" as case moves into discovery phase, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps indicates in a March 6 release. Bronner's says it prevailed in February over defendants' final motions to dismiss on grounds that California's Unfair Competition Law is inapplicable in the branding dispute; the San Francisco Superior Court thought otherwise. The plaintiff maintains that products labeled as "Organic" that contain cleansing and moisturizing ingredients made from conventional agricultural and/or petrochemical material unfairly take business from "true" organic brands. Moreover, such products mislead consumers who do not expect alleged organic products to be "simply conventional formulations with some organic tea on top," the soap maker says. In the same release, Bronner's embraces NSF International's recently launched standard for "Made with Organic" personal care, which it calls "a responsible compromise between organic consumers and the cosmetic industry" that was developed with balanced stakeholder participation and "should become entrenched in the marketplace against competing permissive industry standards" (1"The Rose Sheet" Feb. 23, 2009, p. 5). The group behind the draft Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS) also is implicated in the suit, but is pursuing an appeal, Bronner's notes

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