Thompson Street History

Repost: Natural Product FAQs

This little “dictionary” was created for our employees here at Thompson Chemists a few years back. We’ve decided to repost for general information

Natural Products FAQs

What is “natural” and why is it in quotes?
There is no standard measure that makes a product natural. Unfortunately being labeled “natural” does not mean a product is safe. Standards for being “natural” do exist. If a particular company is using a specific set of standards, they would display a logo or seal on their label. However, the best way to assess the product is to look at the ingredients.

What are parabens and why are they bad for you?
Parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. While generally deemed safe, they are chemically similar to estrogen and have been linked to tumor formation and breast cancer. At this time the FDA deems them safe at levels of up to 2%.

What does “cruelty-free” mean?
Cruelty-free means that the product was not tested on animals. Depending on the standards a company uses, it may mean they do not do business with any other companies that test on animals.

What about “no artificial ingredients”?
This is a marketing claim is similar to the one of being “natural.” Check the label and make your own observations.

What about organic?
Organic foods are produced according to certain production standards, meaning they are grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste, or sewage sludge, and that they were processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. Livestock are reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. In most countries, organic produce must not be genetically modified. Organic cosmetics contain ingredients which were produced organically.
There are different seals or certifications a product can receive such as “USDA Organic” or “Oregon Tilth Organic” and each of these certifications have their own criteria. Products without certification are questionable. While they may contain some organic ingredients,  it is likely only a small percentage.

What does it mean for a product to be “vegan” or “vegan-friendly”?
A product is vegan when it contains no animal-derived ingredients. Common animal by-products include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey, casein, and shellac. Although honey, silk and beeswax are by definition animal products, some vegans consider their use and the use of other insect products to be acceptable.

What is fair trade?
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to alleviating global poverty and promoting sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a fair price to producers as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, and flowers.

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