John Shaw is the  Executive Director and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA) He shares some distinctions with natural product retailers that  I thought might interest you. I’m sure  many of us didn’t know there were things we needed to know about our purchase decisions. Especially when it comes to food labeling issues. Thanks to Vitamin Retailer for the article.  Check it out.

Natural vs. Organic: How to Tell the Difference

Many consumers want the best products and are willing to pay extra for natural or organic products. But what are natural products or organic products? And how do we know what we’re paying for is the real deal? Unless you know what to look for, you could just be paying for some fancy marketing.

First, there isn’t a legal definition of “natural,” so companies are left to define it for their products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says natural is defined differently for each product category, so therefore it has left it undefined. Because of this, the Natural Products Association (NPA), with a group of industry stakeholders, has defined natural in the marketplace.

NPA’s definition requires products b:

  • made from ingredients that come from or are made from a renewable resource found in nature
  • absolutely no petroleum compounds. NPA believes natural ingredients
  • must be sourced naturally, but
  • also processed naturally, without synthetic or petroleum additives.

Many companies will claim that their product is natural because the source of the ingredients is natural, but what happens to that ingredient between harvesting it from the ground and adding it to the product can make it synthetic.
NPA turned this definition of “natural” into a certification program called the Natural Seal, which allows companies to voluntarily certify their products as truly natural by a third-party audited process.

Certified products must be at least 95 percent natural ingredients. In 2010, NPA prohibited all synthetic fragrances using a stricter definition of natural fragrance than most standards; this is a move that manufacturers truly embraced.

Turning to organic, there is a legal definition of “organic” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic for foods, but that definition can also be applied to personal care products.

Organic is really a complex definition indicating the product is:

  • made from ingredients that have been grown, raised or mined without synthetic chemicals or
  • genetically engineered seed stock and
  • processed free of synthetic chemicals,
  • sewage sludge,
  • irradiation and other processes.

The NOP also offers a certification categorizing products into one of three labeling types, based on the organic content of the certified product:

• “100 percent organic” means that the product contains only organically produced ingredients and may display the USDA Organic Seal.

• “Organic” means the product consists of at least 95 percent organically produced content, and the remainder must be substances approved on the National List;  this category also can display the USDA Organic Seal.

• For a “made with organic ingredients” statement on the label, the product must be at least 70 percent organic and not use any prohibited ingredients or processes.

So, when choosing natural or organic products for your customers, be sure to look for these seals. With either of these, you are guaranteed they are the real deal.

You can check if your customers’ favorite brands have been certified at

For the latest product updates, connect with the Natural Seal on Facebook at and on Twitter @npanaturalseal.

NPA-certified products appear in more than 85,000 stores nationwide, from independent retailers to some of the largest chains in the country.

Join the cause of natural products and healthy living by becoming a member of NPA. Find out more at