The NSF Organic Standard


Certified to Contain Organic Ingredients

Scope: Personal Care Products.

Introduction: The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has partnered with the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to form an organic standard for personal care products. The NSF and the OTA began working on an organic standard for personal care products in 2004, shortly after the USDA stated that personal care products may not be covered under their organic program. The NSF created a rigorous organic standard designed specifically for personal care products that would eventually be adopted by the USDA as an encompassing standard for food and personal care. The NSF is credited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standard developer.

Principles: The guiding principles of the NSF organic standard are parallel to those of the USDA organic standard, but are focused on the unique requirements of personal care product formulations. NSF organic agriculture is defined as an "ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity." At the core of organic agriculture is minimal use of off-farm inputs such as conventional pesticides, petroleum based fertilizers, or sewage sludge based fertilizers. Organic management practices are designed to restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.

Certifications: The NSF Organic certification mirrors the USDA Organic Certification in most aspects, however the "made with" category differs slightly in the allowance of several processes and ingredients that are currently banned by the USDA, including certain synthetic preservatives and biodegradable surfactants.

  1. '100 Percent Organic' or 'Organic': A product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt), the remaining percent must be organically grown if commercially available or consist of a non-agricultural substance that is on the NSF Organic approved ingredient list. The product may prominently display the NSF organic seal. All products NSF certified 100% organic must meet the regulations and criteria of the USDA organic certification.
  2. 'Contains Organic Ingredients': This may be used for products that contain between 70 and 95% organic ingredients. The NSF organic standard differs from the USDA organic standard in the allowance of certain ingredients and processes. In this category of NSF organic, products may display "Contains Organic Ingredients" on the front panel along with the NSF organic seal. The product is certified organic through QAI (Quality Assurance International) and all organic ingredients must be certified to the USDA.