SILVER SPRING, MD August 24, 2009 – The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) today filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) expressing support for its draft guidance document recognizing that the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) allows for the certification and labeling of soap products formulated and produced in accordance with NOP regulation as “organic” or “made with” organic ingredients.  

“Some in the industry have expressed concern that allowing certification and labeling of soap as organic is a violation of OFPA,” NOP writes in the July 24 draft document. “We disagree.” According to the document, “soap products formulated using certified organic oils and materials included on the National List may be certified and labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘made with organic [specified ingredients],’” Further, when such certified soap products are provided to downstream processors, “they may be further processed into ‘organic’ or ‘made with’ products,” NOP states.

“Our strong support for extending the NOP to include soap made from agricultural ingredients is consistent with our established position that the OFPA is best applied broadly to all organic products based on content and irrespective of end use,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin.

The draft document also provides guidance on the labeling of “organic” or “made with” organic soap products. Consistent with NOP regulations, the ingredient statement should list all organic and synthetic ingredients: “the actual organic ingredient and the synthetic ingredient used to make the soap.”

FDA has communicated to AHPA its position that in designating cosmetic soap ingredients a labeler may declare its ingredients either as the starting materials that went into making the soap, or the resulting reaction products. It is apparent from the language of the draft guidance that NOP would require the listing on a soap label of the “starting materials” that were used to make a soap, and is, therefore, consistent with one of the two options that FDA allows for labeling soap.

The draft document, however, provides an example of labeling for finished products containing organic saponified oils (i.e., soaps), and states that if a saponified oil is produced as part of a separate process, it may be listed as a parenthetical statement, such as “saponified organic oil (organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide), water, glycerin, beet juice color.” AHPA comments that neither “saponified organic oil” nor “soap” currently appear to be allowed under FDA regulations. “AHPA encourages NOP to initiate communication with FDA to clarify the issue,” said McGuffin, “and we look forward to continuing to work with NOP and FDA on this subject.”

NOP’s “Draft for Comment Only: Certification and Labeling of Soap Products Made From Agricultural Ingredients” is available online at

AHPA’s Aug. 24 comments are available here:

FDA’s communication to AHPA, incorporated into AHPA’s comments by reference, is also available online:

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and nonprescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. Website: