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Lousy Labels  Comment Icon 224 Broadcast DATE: Friday, March 18, 2011
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Lousy Labels

How many personal care products have you used today? Shampoo, deodorant, lotion, makeup, diapers, baby wipes, etc. — the products add up, and so do the chemicals.

That's why about 64 per cent of us say we're using more "natural" items. But how can you tell if a product is really natural or organic?

Marketplace takes a closer look at some of the green labelling on personal care products. We discover that many of those natural and organic labels are often misleading or exaggerating their claims.

It turns out that labels such as "natural" and even "organic" are not regulated. They're just marketing terms.

Some of the "so-called" natural products on the market are no different than the regular, often cheaper brands.

Erica Johnson separates the truly green products from the "greenwashed" — products that look green, but really aren't — in our top ten countdown of the most misleading natural products.

Your Comments (224)

That Cosmetic Industry Rep is stating that it is the Consumers responsibility to be a chemist and check the ingredients. He continuously avoids the concept of trust, and places reversed onus on the consumer.
Good show Marketplace!

In reply to a comment from Sarah

I agree! Tell us what else we can do to find good products and which products ARE good, PLEASE!

That Cosmetic Industry Rep is stating that it is the Consumers responsibility to be a chemist and check the ingredients. He continuously avoids the concept of trust, and places reversed onus on the consumer.
Good show Marketplace!

I think they need to have an episode on false food labels. If companies can get away with selling us falsely advertised 'natural and organic' beauty products, I fear for the general public who buy food for those same claims. I think Canada needs to pull up their socks and take a look to some of the European countries, who take matters like this very seriously. Consumers can only be so informed, we leave the rest up to Government 'standards and regulations' to help us with the rest.

In reply to a comment from jackie connelly

I agree. We need a Part two of what is good, and to look for.

Just sent an email about Avalon Organics Ultimate Face Cream. Sorry, but it's in a #7 plastic container, not #5 as I wrote. Should be changed.

Bought a container of Avalon Organics Ultimate Lavender Moisturing Cream and was dismayed to see it was in a "Number 5" plastic container. I emailed the company to ask why a deemed unsafe plastic is used for their advertised "organic and natural" face cream but never received an answer. Kind to the earth? I'd say "not".

In reply to a comment from Brownie

I bought Live Clean thinking it was a good product but returned everything when I read the ingredients contained fragrance which is one of the worst!

In reply to a comment from Tisha

Does the scent of detergents overpower anyone else?
And fabric softeners, like what are they trying to cover up???????????????Maybe they think we might notice our stuff isn't as clean as it used to be!!!!!

I don't know how Daren Praznick sleeps at night. I can't believe he is defending these companies.

I love that we are being informed as consumers vis "Lousy Labels", but why aren't we being told what to do instead? How do we make good choices if we can not trust some of the "most trusted" companies?

In reply to a comment from Robert

"MSG", now being allowed to be called natural flavour, or organic?? it causes obesity, fools us in thinking what we are eating it good so we eat more, ASK MacDonalds why they put if in there SEPCIAL SAUCE, so your kids eat it of course so they keep coming back for ever and eat more than they would normally eat. There are over 100 studied done that support this. also aparently TIM HORTONS uses it there coffee? correct me if I am wrong?? Why do you like Tims better than everyone elses???

I would have liked to see mention of a list of 10 products that DO meet standards, or ARE natural, green, safe products. Great to keep us on our toes by learning this info, but help me find the ones to replace now that I want to pitch all the body products that I own! Part 2, perhaps?

In reply to a comment from Robert

Sounds like someone who works for the company

In reply to a comment from Linda

Unfortunately, big money-hungry corporations are buying up some health/eco companies and changing the formula with cheap chemicals. So sad to hear. We definitely need to update ourselves with the ingredient list and make an informed decision on what to buy.

In reply to a comment from Tisha

I was also disappointed with 'Melaleuca'. Even though they kept saying how harmful formaldehyde is in personal care products and to buy their healthy product. I discovered about 8 years ago that they were using it in some of their products. As the rep stated, "it's only in minute amount", so this justified their actions. I call it hypocrisy, and totally left the company and move-on to other honest companies.

This show was bad reporting at it's best!! Which now I question this show's research and so-called experts. 'Aubrey Organics' never claimed to be organic, it's their trademark name, but what they do claim is, it's "100% Natural Ingredients", for which they are. This researching crew should have corrected their statement and included products such as, 'Kiss My Face' and 'Jason'. Jason claims to be "pure, natural, organic" and it's a mix of natural ingredients and synthetic chemicals...some which are very questionable for topical use. It's obvious that in this segment, the so-called ingredient health expert lacked experience in this department. I was so disappointed in this segment and lack of research and reporting.

I think that if someone was listening to this broadcast & had a lot of money & common sense they could cash in on this problem of misleading the public by setting up a totally true guaranteed organic or natural products store or stores.I'd shop there exclusively!It probably won't happen because BIG business is in control of what gets out htere & what doesn't.

In reply to a comment from Linda

My pet peeve is the reduction in the size of toilet tissue rolls. A few years ago, before this started, the regular size was 500 sheets. I called one company and was told the large rolls didn't fit the holders etc. Now we have very small rolls, fluffed up to appear large and last about a day! Now you buy huge bags, using many inner rolls and large amount of wrapping! Lots of waste here.

I agree, I work in a retail store that sells seasonal products like fertilizer and weed killer. One of our products SCREAMS on their label that they are chemical free, yet their ingredients claim to have certain chemicals. I have to explain to the upset customers that there are natural chemicals, and that they are all not that bad. People just want to see the natural or organic labeling.

I watched this particular episode with interest. I, too, was disappointed in both the labelling practises in Canada, and also in the lack of definitive 'reasoning' on the show. I would have appreciated hearing the 'standards' Adria Vasil -author of Ecoholic, used to evaluate the products in question.

It reminds me of another show (another station) which tries to evaluate a product, but, not using conforming standards, the consumer is actually worse off than before they watched the program.
No, I do not want to see a show of the '10 Best Product(s) Labelling' as I still don't know how you evaluated the 'worst'.

Sorry.

I appreciate the episode, and my eyes, while not opened, (I am probably the world's biggest cynic, so 'green', 'natural' and 'organic' on labelling really doesn't attract or detract me from the product), have certainly been 'strained'.

-acorn

I agree with you wholeheartedly and I hope that many more Canadians start to think like you. As a European now living in Canada I am astounded that Canadian consumers are not better protected. The large pharmaceutical companies seem to be able to do whatever they want with their products and labelling with no repercussions. When are we, the consumers, going to wake up, stop listening to their ridiculous TV ads and demand safer products.
The only way to "hurt" these huge money making corporations is to stop buying their products and support those companies who genuinely care about our health and the well being of the environment.

Well then you are obviously nuts. To think that ingredients that have been used by humans for thousands of years are dangerous (scary olive oil!) and petroleum byproducts that have only shown up in the last century are safe. CUKOO!

In reply to a comment from Shirley

Shirley, I'm wondering if the "wellness company" you are refering to is Melaleuca. If so, you should take a look at the ingredients in some of the cleaning products. The dishwashing detergent contains SLS and although "naturally derived" it is still just as harmful. Its like mixing coconut oil with motor oil and calling it natural.
I have been very dissappoint with Melaleuca.

In reply to a comment from Shirley

Hi shirley, would you mind sharing the name of the company? I'm interested in buying these types of products as well. thks.

In reply to a comment from Janice

A couple of people have quoted the EWG safe comstic website. It is a shame as something like this site is needed but the EWG is alarmist to the point of not being correct.

They have assembled vast quantities of material with little idea of its relevance.

For instance most of the adverse biological testing they report is 40 years old and very very preliminary. My betting is there is later material that they have not taken into account as it indicates there is less concern regarding the ingredients that the papers they quote.

When it first showed up I looked up stearic acid which is part of soap. EWG had concerns for neurotoxicity and organic toxicity. At that time they provided links to the papers on which they based this “review”. I looked up the stearic acid paper. The work was on stearic acid and several other organic acids. Stearic acid was included as the non toxic control. The EWG review was not even a shallow one. Very poor.

Even worse, I sent an email pointing this out to them. The next day the link to the paper had been removed.

A couple of weeks later I reviewed there reviews of 2 other ingredients; their reviews were similarly shallow as the stearic acid. The next day all links to the referred papers disappeared.
So they have quantity but no quality and are an unreliable source of information.

It is very sad for me that teh good guys can behave just as badly as the bad guys.

In reply to a comment from Margaret Paterson

Margaret Paterson's comments on certified products are spot on. But I would add that Australia has had legal requirements for organic cosmetics that are exprted for some years. They are the toughest in the world. So look for certfied organic product from Australia!!

I would also note that some of the European certfication allows 5% synthetics; not terribly good.

In reply to a comment from Linda

There is no doubt many fragrances have several problems to them. But essential oils are not harmless either and can be very allergenic. Basil oil is a good example; the allowed levels of the EU are so low it is pointless using it. And even lavender can give reactions.

In reply to a comment from Bill

An excellent point. It is not possible to make even organic products for the market without using chemistry. But the cemistry works with nature instead of completely subverting her.

In reply to a comment from Bill

It's nice to see that not everyone has been brainwashed into thinking that "chemical = bad". People, chemicals are in everything, including "natural" things! Ever check out the chemical composition of an apple? That said, and not to cloud the issue of misleading consumers being clearly a bad thing, people need to realize that they should not be afraid of what they do not understand. The key here is educating yourselves.

Wow. Its gotten to the point that as consumers we need to be hypervigilant and cynical about every product. Who has the time? Try finding a food product that doesn't contain some derivative of corn or a shampoo/body wash that doesn't contain ammonium lauryl sulphate (foaming agent also used in industrial floor cleaners). We need better consumer protection against false organic marketing claims.

In reply to a comment from Hans Eich

You are right Hans... maybe they had trouble finding the truly natural product. That is why I have continued to learn about a company called Shaklee Canada. The more I learn, the more I realize that is company, who for 55 years has been producing and standing behind their products.

In reply to a comment from Linda

Oh Please. We throw around the word chemical and organic like they're dirty. Water is a chemical! H2o anyone? And I think the people of Bhopal India might mind you calling your neighbour's dryer sheet usage as creating toxic fumes. Spare the rhetoric.

I'm normally a big fan or Marketplace. Really thank you to you guys for revealing all those scams out there and standing up for us the little people, but this episode was really not up to par. Do a bit more homework on the issue before making an episode on it. An issue seems simple on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper it's much more complicated. I think this link will really help you guys out alot: http://cool.mcgill.ca/
Scroll down and click on the link for CHEM 180 or CHEM 181. These are recorded lectures at McGill University, which I am a student of. It's available to the public. It's a great resource, may really help you and others out there to know the basic truth behind science topics related to food and the environment.
I'm really disappointed in this episode, I thought you were going to talk about the fact that organic labels put on food is based on an honour system! Nobody checks farmer to make sure they are using organic pesticides. But nonetheless, it would be an impossible policy to implement.
Also, I agree with Bill's comment below. Everything is a chemical. They are not good or bad. What people do with them are good or bad.

In reply to a comment from Linda

Uh, coal tar is a by product of coal and does contain organic components. Again a chemical is a chemical...

In reply to a comment from Linda

I have noticed the shrinking products as well. But a quick test of the toilet paper size would be to use an old toilet paper holder. The double and triple size rolls don't fit them. So far I have not noticed a size change as I still need to use an extender to fit the roll on. Facial tissues have gone from 150 to 142 to 140 to 132 to 100 for 2ply same price though...

In reply to a comment from Linda

If you can find something that is more natural and better please share it with us. As it stands everything we buy is pretty much 100% chemicals. Here's a good example: Vitamin C- natural or synthetic source? Pretty much the same when you look at it chemically. Although I would suspect the "natural" source to have more impurities then the synthetic...

Here's another one. WATER! Water is considered a chemical. H2O is dihydrogen monoxide. I would like to see someone find a more natural water :P.

I watched this episode and have been royally miffed about "greenwashed" products ever since - yes siree, this 22-minute video is a real eye opener. Accolades to the investigative reporters at Marketplace :)

COR is actually the symbol for the Kashruth Council of Toronto and is an indicator of Kosher Status. There is a Canadian symbol for organic food in Canada but COR is not it

In reply to a comment from Janice

Janice - Don't be so surprised that the chemical was already banned in Europe. Get this, there are over 1,113 banned cosmetic ingredients in Europe, about 150 in Canada by summer 2011 and only 13 in USA.
This means North American's got the short end of the stick!

I for one am not surprised by the companies abilities to make claims that are not true. I don't buy any off the shelf health care products anymore and have not for two years. All my products are purchased from a company called miessence that is truly all organic and list all ingredients on their products. They also list these ingredients on their website, www.mionegroup.com which almost never happens, such in the case of Arbonne. I actually requested an ingredient list one time and was told that is was not possible. You want me to buy your product yet you won't list all ingredients on your product, give me a break.

I am so happy to see your add especially the cover girl product. I personally do not use make-up but I see that commercial everywhere and the girls on America's next-top model try to sell this product. Man if they only know that there is nothing natural about this product at all, if they can actually sell it the same way

When it was said "something that doesn't have chemicals in it" This shows the common misconception about chemicals. Everything is a chemical! Stop making chemical a dirty word and learn some basic science.

In reply to a comment from Susan

Tom's of Maine was bought out by Proctor and Gamble a few years ago, so now even Tom's former toothpaste has gone chemical! Burt's Bees also does use some chemicals, as does Aveda and especially the Body Shop who used to market all their products as natural until consumers started asking for the ingredients list...they didn't have the ingredients listed on their products until only a few years ago, so how could we have found out. Now when I ask the Body Shop (I would NEVER buy any of their products) for the ingredients, they either show me one on the bottom of the bottle that's too small to read or they hand me a binder to look up the info myself. Don't be duped any more by trusting the 'brand'. Always read labels and ask questions. If the ingredients aren't listed or you don't like them, put the products back on the shelf and shop for better and safer stuff.

In reply to a comment from canary in the mineshaft

Hi - I too suffered with scent-induced migraines and still do when I come in contact with someone who lathered themselves with toxic perfumes...not the same as pure essential oils. I'm an aromatherapist in BC and have been making my own herbal skin care for 14 yrs., so I never have to buy something elsewhere and I know what the ingredients are without chemicals and synthetics. I'm considering starting a campaign to ban fabric softeners and dryer balls and sheets. When my neighbour uses dryer sheets, the toxic fumes come from the outside vent and we have to close all our windows.

In reply to a comment from JohnWC

Olivier's products may be pronounceable, but they're not natural. They use 'emulsifying wax'-not natural, and check out their bath bombs that are dyed with FD&C colours that come from coal tars. Why?

In reply to a comment from Eddie Logue

Right on the money, Eddie...if you'll pardon the pun! I've also noticed the smaller amounts and higher prices for many years now and I certainly have no problem giving store managers a piece of my mind and reminding them that consumers are becoming more informed. Another product that shrunk is toilet paper. What used to be a single roll has been marketed for years now as a double roll.

In reply to a comment from Janet

If a product smugly claims that there are no Parabens that's most likely because they're now mixed in (cleverly hidden) with other chemicals called Carbomers - 20, 40, 60 80, etc.

Even Thrifty's cookies contain Propylene Glycol, a wetting agent, that's also used in antifreeze. It may be listed on the ingredients list, or may also be hidden, like many chemicals, as part of the Vanilla extract (pure or synthetic). I've been after Thrifty's to remove Propylene Glycol, and other chemicals from the cookies for 2 yrs now without any change. I refuse to buy them and find it more enjoyable to make my own baked goods with better ingredients, at least then I know what the ingredients are.

I never buy Organic or Natural products as I've allways suspected these labels to be just another con to get you to spend more money,(I was right!)The majority of the public are clueless about everything.The Conservative Party is more proof of this fact due to them being in power. I'm surprised they aren't labeled Organic and Natural.

CBC needs the "Lousy Label" themselves!

Where are the "truly green products"? All I saw is a mass confusion of the viewers, no guidelines of helping anyone how to choose the truly green products.

Some details are shocking and revealing, and we did expect that, but CBC just agitated the general population and gave the person not buying any green products an excuse to continue to do so. Shame on you!

In reply to a comment from Adam

Wow!! Wrong on so many levels. Are you suggesting we, the consumer need to write down and research the name of every chemical then go back if the way is clear to purchase the item. We have a scientific government agency, Health Canada, that we have empowered to look out for the best interest of Canadians. They are expected to ban chemicals on all consumable goods that will potentially cause us harm. We should expect no less than to hold them responsible to us, the people who pay the taxes that pay their wages. Their mandate is to keep us safe. We should be contacting our MP's to make Health Canada take action to clear up labelling so that we can, at a glance, clearly see and understand what we pay for.

I must agree that it is a bit unfair to claim it as "100% organic or natural" and only a small portion or amount is actually part of that 100% organic and natural.
Not saying that the product isn't doing its job, its just an intentional "i-did-not-lie-but-it-is-just-to-rip-you-off" to consumers.

I think this was "Lousy Journalism". Ultimately the decision on whether or not we believe companies' claims is made with our dollars. They put the ingredients list on products for a reason. We can't just be ignorant and pretend that all companies are here for our benefit.

In reply to a comment from Adam

Adam, I am actually in complete agreement with you. I am concerned about the products I buy and I do my best to research and support brands that are as environmentally friendly as they can be.

But we cannot forget that these are products packaged in plastic, manufactured in unsustainable ways and marketed to us as things we must have in our product-obsessed lives.

I think the entire "organic" or "natural" marketing ploy is the issue. Since when does organic mean something is good? What is the definition of natural? As you say, crude oil, uranium, disease are all naturally occurring things.

The real issue is fair pricing, sustainability, and using ingredients that are less harmful to the environment, organic or not (whatever that means.) It's the lack of accountability that is the problem and the onus shouldn't be placed so strongly on the consumer to do all the legwork. There must be regulation.

Finally, it's worthwhile to consider if we even need all these products. A lot of cleaning products can be made at home on the cheap.

In reply to a comment from Daune

Actually, the "perfume" or "frangrance" that gets listed is actually a combination of essentials oils. I was concerned by their loose use of the term and wanted information, and then recieved it :).

In reply to a comment from Susan

I agree. I noticed some Burts Bee's products in the basket and was sitting and cringing - waiting for the verdict. Thankfully she didn't put a "lousy label" on those products but hopefully they wouldn't be labeled as product # 11! Also - has anyone done a product review on Arbonne? They claim to be "pure, safe and benefical".

As one of the canaries in the chemical coal mine-field I was happy to see this program but Marketplace barely scratched the surface - what do you do with 22 minutes? I have lived in general isolation for twenty years and have to carry antidotes with me. Sometimes a chemical exposure overload leaves me recouperating for days and weeks - and I am grateful that I live in a very rural environment with no major toxins. The chemicals noted in Marketplace are just the tip of the iceburg and it would help a lot of Canadians make better choices if we had access to those lists through the CBC, not just links, as the current federal Government won't give us information we need, deserve and pay for.

Well, I am quite disappointed with this show. It did half the job and leaves many in limbo with so many questions and misconceptions.

1. Adria Vasil is NOT a chemist
2. Because an ingredient as a "weird" name does not mean it is unsafe: Butyrospermum parkii butter is Shea butter!
3. Alcohol is not necessarily bad for the skin, the word alcohol refers to an organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom.
Glycerin is an alcohol. Cetyl alcohol from coconut oil is an emollient.
4. Certified organic is not the same as organic. Ecocert seems to be a serious certification organism.
5. In doubt, look at more than one database on cosmetic ingredients.
6. You can't avoid some chemicals: preservatives....unless you like mold and bacterias in your products!

The only solution is to only buy the products that have the EcoLogo certification, from the government of Canada. The brands like ATTITUDE have all their products certified, we can trust it is for real!

I am not a doctor in chemistry so impossible to understand the ingredients.

Absolutely disgusting the fake green diapers! Seventh generation is totally off my list!

Thank you

Great show. I wish they could have identified products that have great labels and are truely better for the environment. I've used Live Clean Shampoo and it has alot of "Free From" ingredients on the label including NO paraben's, SLS, petroleum, DEA, Phosphate's and Phthalate's. They say 98% plant ingredients with certified organic botanicals. They have a complete line of baby products, hand soaps, lotions, etc. Worth a second look. Check them out!!

Thank you Marketplace for bringing this to light. As a mom of 2 young children I am very concerned with products containing chemicals that are harmful to our health or that are bad for the environment. I was seething by the end of your show after seeing that 2 products I have in my household are not what they claim (Aveeno and Huggies baby wipes). Have these companies lost their moral compass? How is this different than the melamine found in powdered infant milk in China? The level of melamine provided instant damage which is why it came to light so quickly, whereas big product companies kill us slowly starting at birth and in a way that is difficult to prove or trace back to their particular products. Its plain EVIL if you ask me. How can a chemical on Health Canada's hot list be added in baby products I'll never understand but they can kiss my business (among other things) goodbye.

And if the fat bastard who was representing the interests of the cosmetic companies and defending their dishonesty and complete disregard for the well being of consumers, is any indication of what lies behind this industry's scrupples, be very very concerned.

We need to educate ourselves, demand better regulation/labelling, and vote with our wallets.

I will share this info with every parent/friend/family I know.

In reply to a comment from Tom

The producers need to produced green products not green lies. We don't want toxic levels of hormones, or environmental harmful chemicals, in the products we buy. Is that such a hard thing to produce?

I'm surprised the program made no mention of the non-profit Environmental Working Group which rates cosmetic products of many types (sunscreen, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) based on safety studies of the ingredients contained. www.ewg.org

In reply to a comment from Mom-to-1

Lush list all their ingredients but they anything but natural . They will tell you what some things are and what they do but they do not tell you what perfume is and what it does in their product.I am just naming one item. They have a great idea for their product and say all the good things that they do for for our earth like protecting of animals but I guess us human do not get the same respect they give us the chemicals. We then pass it on to the animals. Before buying any of their produces read all their ingredients and check them out.

I find it interesting that your show never gave a definiton of "organic" or "natural" that would have been acceptable to your standards.
By all means consumers are being lead astray, but that's the job of advertising execs everywhere. Lets not forget that crude oil is 100% vegtable matter and therefore "organic". Uranium is a naturally occuring mineral and so we can say full of Earth's goodness or kissed by Mother Nature.
The honta virus and ebola are also all natural, and organic...no added byproducts or adulterants.
In the end the consumer has to take responsibility for what they buy, and stop blaming the manufacturer for selling them things they don't need.

I really appreciated this episode. As a new mother I thought I was doing a good thing by using the Huggies Natural Care wipes. I was under no delusions that they were 100% natural, but I had no idea that they contained a chemical on Canada's hotlist as a substance that should be banned! I have returned my unopened package of these wipes and thrown out any others I had around my house!

Thank you Marketplace for helping me to be better informed about what exactly is in the products I use for my 6 month old child!

I'm a little confused about Adria Vasil's beef with Seventh Generation diapers. She actually recommends them in her book, Ecoholic (p. 117, 2007 ed.) as "greener" alternatives to traditional disposables because they are "chemical-, frangrance- and chlorine-free and made with unbleached cotton and wood pulp." I get that they are expensive and that they dye their plastic. But was she just concerned that the label focuses on the diapers being "chlorine-free" while other diapers are also that way? What about the rest of the contents, like the wood-pulp or even the lack of certain ingredients? The list of diaper ingredients is on their site: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/Diapers
Anyone have any insights?

In reply to a comment from Lo

Also a fan of Aubrey. At least their ingredients are more natural and less chemical! Painted in the wrong light in this episode.

In reply to a comment from Lo

Well said Lo. Despite the fact that this is a critical issue, it was disappointingly vague, got completely side-tracked with the baby stuff, was unfocused and did not present any clearly researched and defined terms and keywords. Also there was no differentiation between TYPES of products and most importantly WHAT CHEMICAL TO AVOID and which brands are NOT greenwashed. Sadly this episode has left watchers confused, skeptical, apathetic or at best, misinformed. Better luck next time; but at least Adria will boost her book sales.

In reply to a comment from Lo

I wholeheartedly agree with this comment. Aubrey is a fantastic company that has been making truly natural products since the 60's. They do not spend much time and resources on packaging on marketing, rather they are more concerned with researching safe, effective formulations from natural sources. Not only that, but their products work really well! (seriously you guys, their shampoos are clean, safe and marvelous...and no, I'm not on their payroll!) Marketplace is far more concerned about consumers being duped by greenwashing than educating them about the actual toxins and their effects in said products.

I don't see the problem here. Turn the package over and read the ingredients, if it doesn't sound natural or organic, you really think it is? Learn to read people. Better yet, don't waste your time with obvious marketing gimmicks, you don't need a mommy state for that.

Here's Seventh Generation's answer:

http://www.seventhgeneration.com/learn/news/understanding-seventh-generation-diapers

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We all need to be more diligent when we are shopping, what a great lesson to learn.

Thank you for your story. We need more EXPOSURE on this. Consumers want to buy better products, but need it to affordable and easily accessed. We all should read those labels more carefully. I wish the govt. would oversee this more and ban those toxic chemicals from being used at all. Keep up the good work!

It's really unfortunate that you picked Aubrey as one of your "lousy labels" considering they are one of the few companies out there making products that are actually natural (their products are great!). Although not entirely organic, which is somewhat misleading, Aubrey are not one of the bad guys; however, you made them out to be so on your program. There are hundreds of other companies that are far guiltier of "greenwashing," and you mistakenly lumped Aubrey in with them.

I was also very disappointed, as others mentioned, that you made no distinction between labelling in the organic food industry and the cosmetics industry.

All in all, you were not very careful in your presentation of materials.

I'm sorry, but I think the blame can be equally split between marketers and consumers in this case. People are so lazy that they want to be TOLD what to buy. That's not how it works: in our capitalist/free-market system you have to DECIDE yourself, or with the help of someone you trust. If you've ever flipped over a bottle of shampoo or any other beauty product, you'll realize that it sounds like one big toxic mess. And anyone who somehow thinks that a picture of a leaf is some kind of standarized sybmol representing anything meaningful ... well ... those people will believe anything, and can't be helped. God/nature gave us a brain for a purpose, and it's hard to feel any sympathy for those who willfully refuse to use it. (Though half of the shame also falls on those who take advantage of these types of people.)

In reply to a comment from Janice

All good points Janice. Breast Cancer Action Montreal is a good Canadian women's environmental health organization working on these issues and BCAM also has developed a project called FemmeToxic to particularly address the issues of toxins in cosmetics and the issue of labeling.

Skin deep is a really good resource. I really like however, the Good Guide, because they have an app for smart phones so you can actually scan the bar code of products while you are in the store to know their toxic rating.

I am a certified organic vegetable farmer and I was surprised that you did not interview anyone from the Organic Federation of Canada or the Canadian Organic Trade Association to provide an understanding of why cosmetics do not currently fall under the Canadian Organic Standard. By the way, the Canadian Organic Standard is not a "voluntary" standard.
As well you failed to note that there are no standards for the term "natural" except that it contain no preservatives. "Natural" products have been taking over the grocery shelves because companies can make a "natural" claim without having to follow the Canadian Organic Standards or even use organically produced inputs.
I hope that you will take the opportunity in an upcoming show to correct the errors/ommissions in this one.
Maureen Bostock

I found the response of Darren Prasnick astounding
as he puts everything as the consumers responibility. That is absolutely astounding. Consumers are not all chemists. If we must check everything then his organistaion and consumer watch organisations that dont do their job should be closed dowm.

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

Totally agree!

just because an ingredient is 'natural' doesn't make it good -- what about such product features as 'renewable', 'sustainable', 'non-petrochemical', & 'low carbon footprint', among others? even if the guidelines discussed in this episode are created, will companies be forced to 'purchase' the right to use such labels on their products like (some) organic titles for foodstuff?

I have been buying safer household cleaning products for over 10 year from a Wellness Company who have been in business for over 25 years and who manufacture products that do not contain any toxic chemicals. These products are effective and yet so safe that they do not require safety caps. Best decision I ever made!

It's shows like this that completely justify the CBC's existence for me. THANK YOU for having our backs -- I watched this show and my wife and I have at least 6 of the products on your lousy label list... and we're pissed. Who is the best person that we should unload our consumer rage on?

Its time to ban any harmful chemicals from appearing in our personal products. If the EU can move on progress like this then so can we.

Thank you so much Market Place for bringing these issues to the public!! For about a year and a half I have become a lable reader. It would have been nice to see your show showcase products that are infact truly organic to let consumers know that there are companies out there that are clean and safe. It is very upsetting to see the Canadian Cosmetic, toilety and fragrence associations response to this issue. I am offended in the fact that they blame the consumer. The fact of the matter is, no one knows how to prenounce each chemicals name let alone what effects they have on the body. As a young consumer I feel as though the only way to be truly safe, is to take matters into your own hands and educate yourself about what is out there.

Welcome to the Wide World of Big Business!!

Corporations certainly aren't stupid. They have recognized the massive profit potential of consumers new concern for health and the environment. But as CBC points out....profits are the focus while truth and integrity are derailed in corporate double-speak and the fine print.

Take Galen Weston and his group of stores, The Loblaws Group that includes Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods, Loblaws and many more. They've jumped on the organic bandwagon and are now selling "organic produce" and "organic products" at 100 to 300 percent more than regular products. But at no time does the Loblaws Group provide detailed, coherent information as to the source of the product or who the oversight body or organization is. Even when you call Loblaws customer service line or speak to store managers you get nothing in the way of an intelligent, satisfactory and detailed answers....vague generalities and noncommittal foolishness is the order of the day.

Even "healthy" foods are a reason to gouge or at the very least, cause for a lot of head scratching. Like Campbells and their line of "Healthy Choice" soups....does that mean that all the other soups Campbells makes are "unhealthy"....can you imagine the new marketing campaign for the other soups......HEY THERE!...TIRED OF GOOD HEALTH??...LOST YOUR ZEST FOR LIFE???.....BLOOD PRESSURE NOT QUITE HIGH ENOUGH....WELL THEN, TRY NEW "CAMPBELLS REGULAR SOUPS"..PLAIN ORDINARY STUFF AT HALF THE COST OF OUR "HEALTHY BRANDS".

I have even run into the same problem to a lesser degree with a chain of stores called "Planet Organic"...they are less than immediate with answers to questions asked about the detailed source of vegetables and fruit and their mechanisms for determining the "organic claims" of every one of their suppliers....seems to be a reasonable question to ask....considering the higher prices one pays.

For me...I try more and more to shop local and avoid the large corporations.....provides local farmers with a decent living and provides me with piece of mind....

In reply to a comment from Tom

I totally agree, Tom! People need to be made aware that certified organic is not the same as organic or natural and to watch for a seal of organic certification on the product. As a certified organic farmer, it scares me to watch the terms like organic and natural used so loosely when we work so hard and go through so much expense as well as yearly inspections to make sure our products are not contaminated! We do this because we care about the quality of foods the consumers are buying!

Re: diapers. Perhaps, we should look for a brand that produces micro-fiber cloth nappies. These are rewashable with laundry -- much better than buying organic/non-organic diapers, that fills up the land fill.

As always, I loved the show! After watching the show though, I think the Lousy Label Award should have gone to the Canadian Government, I mean the Harper Government. They deserve the gold when we have agencies who are suppose to govern this type of thing and yet nothing is done. Granted, it does come down to us as consumers to be informed but how many of us are chemists. I was appalled when I saw the Diaper wipes containing some chemical that is currently on the gov'ts watch list. Thats just insane...

I maybe wrong here but I thought the government was out there for the good of the people- keep us safe, provide us with safe place to live. Why don't we make this kind of thing an election issue, and demand that companies STOP SLOWLY KILLING YOUR CITIZENS!

Corporations are riding on the "green" train and mass market products to consumers trying to lure as many into buying -- nothing new here. The problem is that now the onus is on the consumer to know right from wrong.
Not everybody is cosmetic-chemistry savvy and this kind of knowledge should not be required in order to buy a shampoo, for example.

But some of the blame lies with us, the consumers, asking for more and more performance from the products we buy at an ever lower price.

If you want something 100% organic, try mountain spring water, but it may not do what you want (effectively wash the dirt off your hands). A soap or shampoo has to have some chemistry in it. For example, a soap in the early 20th century was made with tallow and sodium hydroxide. While you can control the tallow, how can you make organic sodium hydroxide?
If you want performance (the hair to stay in position for 24 hrs or the deodorant to last an entire day) you have to have chemistry involved -- it's a necessary evil. The moral: lower your standards and you may find affordable organic products. Or be prepared to pay a bucket of money for USDA Organic, EcoCert, and other certified natural products.

I wonder what this government group is getting paid? When they do nothing in the way of helping the health of citizens and our environment.

Is the Commissioner of the Competition Bureau a political appointment? Melanie Aitken's response, as the Comissioner, sure responded like most Conservative MPs who are asked for interviews (routinely turning down interviews). With the other party in power, I don't think things would be much different with labeling, but I suspect at least Marketplace would have gotten an interview.
I do think consumers need to continue purchasing sustainable, animal friendly products, but they sure won't find them at the grocery store/supermarket. It takes some work, and some diligence. I was glad to see Green Beaver (a Canadian Company) didn't make the worste 10.

I looked at the Health Canada site regarding ingredients in cosmetics (the bad ingredients) and PARABEN was not listed. Anyone know why not?

It is worth taking a look at Arbonne who formulates all their products including those for babies without parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate or chemical dyes and fragrances.

I am scandalized by how many 'natural' baby products are harmful and that in the early days parents are so exhausted and trying to do their best, possibly pay more and this is what is happening to them!

Loved the show but it's sad to see CBC being supported by these companies and advertising for them.

thank you for your program! this was an eye-opener, I will pass the word to people I know. This infuriates me that our government enables this fraud against the people of Canada.

I make most of my own soap and skin care products, very simple to do with a bit of research, have been doing so for 10-15 years. That way you know exactly what you're using and it's much less expensive.

Once again your shows highlight the way consumers are being duped by the advertising of big busines, has anyone noticed how we the consumers are being shortchanged by the companies, a tin of coffee used to be 1KG then it wen't to 975 grms. then 925 grms. the can looks the same but a lot less for your money, its the same with potato chips, which also used to be 325 grms, now 235 grms, again the bag looks the same. I could go on and on about products which look the same but are reduced in quantity, i think we as consumers are being duped by the big companies all for their greed.

Eddie Logue.

Thank you Marketplace for saying what Bubble Hut has said all along. We've built our business on sensitive skin. While other domaines "claim" they're natural or organic we've said the honest truth. "we make products that are good enough for our daughter's skin" and have no problems in being completely honest about what we use in our products.

I'm astounded - especially at the 'Huggies' baby wipes! VERY SCARY indeed! I DO READ LABELS on food and have come to learn many 'man-made' ingredient names- but I am unfamiliar with scientific words for ingredients in non-food products, so wouldn't likely catch what's poisonous/toxic and what's not! My University degree did not take me into the sciences. Thanks Marketplace! I'm passing this on to my niece and other young women I know expecting babies soon.

Thank you for a very revealing episode of Marketplace. Our household makes a very conscious effort to purchase the safest products, but now we feel betrayed. We were especially flabbergasted by the smug comments from the representitive of the cosmetology association. Do we need to have MSDS warnings attached to personal care products now?

The reality is nothing will change until we hit manufactures where it counts... in the pocket book. We need to know who is has truthful labelling and support their business for doing so. One company that comes to mind is recent Dragons Den reject Olivier Soapery from New Brunswick. Their ingredients have words we can pronounce and can be associated with something that strikes us as being from this earth!

In reply to a comment from Jonna Ebel

Actually, thankfully, more and more companies are not using SLS. The scary part is if a company seems genuinely natural (e.g. you only find it at your health food store) but doesn't specify this absence, it probably does contain SLS. No *certified* organic or ecological shampoo can contain SLS.
Some safe ones are Druide and Avalon Organics.

In reply to a comment from Susan

"Do you have a list of good products that are actually organic and natural? I am unsure of all my choices now...Tom's, Burt's Bees, Aveda, The Body shop??"

I've become quite skeptical about Burt's Bees in the past two years since discovering that my favourite hand cream had not only gone down $4 in price, but they had changed the ingredients.

Originally, it had Rose and Neroli essential oils in it. And the most important thing for me--it had no alcohol. (I firmly believe that alcohol in any form--benzyl, stearyl, cetyl, cetearyl, etc--is drying and I do my best to avoid it like the plague in products that I use on my hair and skin but if you read labels as religiously as I do, you will find it virtually impossible to avoid.)

In the new cheaper version, the Rose and Neroli oils were conspicuously absent (though the promotional wording on the box still touted that it contained Neroli oil). And then I saw that offending ingredient: benzyl alcohol. I haven't bought it since.

A few months later, I learned that the founder, Roxanne Quimby, had sold Burt's Bees to Clorox in late 2007.

Now Burt's Bees can be found all over. Some loyal fans say that the brand is as good as ever, but I don't think they read the ingredients. Unfortunately, people who don't watch for things like that wouldn't know now if their favourite products have changed formulations since Clorox took over.

And just because it's sold in a health food store doesn't mean it's natural. I see things on labels in health food stores that would surprise you.

You are the only person who will ever genuinely care what goes on your skin and hair. It took an allergy to a natural substance to start me reading labels--now I have no choice. And if I run across something without an ingredients list, I don't buy it. You have to educate yourself and do your homework. If we learned anything from the Marketplace report it's that no one is protecting us consumers or our families. We can grumble and whine about it until things change, or we can let our feet and wallets do the walking, which will change things faster.

If everyone operated on the premise that I must in order to avoid breaking out in hives, which is that if I don't know what's in it, I simply don't buy it, these companies would have to change in a big hurry.

In reply to a comment from Emma, wise cat

"Did you know that "botantical(s)" is not a word but a ******* made up by the advertising industry to confuse you."

Actually, "botanical" is an adjective form of the noun, botany, meaning "the science that deals with plants and plant life." It is most commonly used to refer to public green spaces known as "botanical gardens." The industry did not make it up.

It may be a little loosely applied in the case you're referring to, but it is a word that can be found in a dictionary and marketing or not, in this instance, it is used to imply that there are plants and/or plant extracts contained in the product.

Far be it from me to advocate for a health and beauty industry that is using deceptive labeling and marketing practices, but I will always advocate for the English language.

Fine print is always a sign of immoral behavior. Food or products that come inside sealed plastic containers are not "natural" and there is no such thing as green cars.

In reply to a comment from sharon

by Adria Vasil -author of Ecoholic

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

I agree! Great show (again)...I'd love to hear thoughts on good products or companies. Thanks!
Sandra

A very important component was missing from the recent show "Lousy labeling" on Marketplace - NO product is Organic unless it is over 95% organic ingredients and it is certified by an accredited Certification Body. AND Canada does NOT certify beauty/health products - at this point only the US and EU does. I felt the message portrayed in the show was misleading - anything claiming organic must be supported by a Certification logo or the name of the Body who certified it - without that there is absolutely no consumer guarantee. Certification is the Guarantee. Also the show should have pointed out the difference between ORGANIC claims for FOOD versus claims for health/beauty products. Organic food IS regulated by the CFIA where as health/beauty products are NOT regulated.
Any health/beauty product can be labeleld organic, natural, chemical free, eco etc but only a truly ORGANIC product is CERTIFIED ORGANIC - and the guarantee is the certification Body who certified that product. This is what we should be teaching consumers- Recognizing logos and certification body names to give the consumer complete confidence in what they are buying. A certified organic FOOD product is scrutinized though out the entire chain of custody, ground to consumer . When companies can finally make a health/ beauty product that meet these strict standards only then will Canada certify such products. Currently the Canadian Organic Standards guarantee organic food products both grown here and imported. Thank goodness we have this food safety regulation in place. Consumer education is sorely needed in this country if we want to ensure our children are raised with wholesome safe food. Until such time as Certified Organic Health/ beauty products are produced consumers must take the responsibility to read and understand ingredient as well as hope what they are being told is substantiated and truthful.

SAME PROBLEM IN CLOTHING !!
For years we've been telling people to buy certified organic cotton cloth that carry a certification logo : there is no legislation in Canada to prevent a compagny to sell non organic cotton as organic cotton !
Thanks for this excellent show again !

Ontario Agriculture has not even accepted the national standard for Organic foods; because of this the labels 'natural' and 'organic' can be used without responsibility or repercussion. Since this industry is more carefully monitored, how can we expect the manufacturers of health care products to follow any sort of standard? - one more cause to lobby?

I watch you show and was saddened to see that rather than help the people and companies that are doing right in the food industry you have harmed them by mudding the waters. If you are going to attack Organic and lump it with the unregulated pretend label Natural then you should have ensured you seperated Organic Food from Organic Beauty Products. Organic Food is regulated, is certified, is Real. Organic beauty products are not regulated and not often real. The Organic Food industry has worked hard to get rid of the pretenders by lobbying for a Government regulation and certification to be standardized to ensure consumer confidence. You should have not painted all Organic with the same brush and ensured consumers new Orgnaic food is not the wild unregulated west that is the beauty product industry. The Food sector unlike the red faced avoider from the beauty lobby on your show knows that a voluntary regulation is a joke so the Orgnaic Food Regulation is mandatory, you cannot label something Organic that is for food and sell it without regulation and certification of the claim. Good job at naming the liars of the beauty trade, now if you want to correct the damage to the organic food sector do a shown showing how the lie called "Natural" is anything but Natural and the Organic Food is regulated and certified and real.

I won't deny that if I have a choice between two products & one is labeled as organic or natural then this is the one I would reach for first. I cannot believe that the goverment does not regulate what is happening here. As a consumer I feel ripped off. As a mother I feel it is my responsibility to make the best choices for my family, these false labels are very decieveing. Thank you so much for bringing this problem of false labels public. Perhaps we could have a list of the best Top 10 Labels that are true to their word.

In reply to a comment from Mike

Mike, I'm curious... do you ever shop with toddlers or young children? I'm a well educated person and try to take the time to read the labels but it's not always possible when you're shopping with kids. Bravo to you but please don't insult my intelligence by telling me I deserve to be duped if I don't have the time to read every label.

In reply to a comment from Susan

I agree!! Where is the top 10 best labels- a list of scrutinized products!!

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

a great idea---where to purchase a natural product-is there such a thing

I HEART Adria Vasil and the work she is doing.

While I agree completely that companies should be held to a higher standard and not permitted to mislead us. However, I also believe that we, as consumers, carry responsibility for our own well-being and that means, being informed. READ THE LABEL. And if you can't read a word, chances are it's not good for you. If you want to know how not good, look it up. Educate yourself. The only way companies will stop misleading us is if they can't. So don't allow them to. Know what you are buying. :)

Please, please, PLEASE do an episode on the BEST products out there as a followup to this one. It's SO hard as a consumer who doesn't know LATIN, etc. to know what's safe and what's not without HOURS of time spent. Having a "safe list" would be HUGE in changing the way the conscientious Canadian shoppers shop!!

Hippies and treehuggers have always been the easiest people to dupe...in their haste to be better than you, they fall victim to the words natural and organic, pictures of leaves and plain brown wrapping.

In reply to a comment from Steve

This depends on whether or not you are a scientist. Organic to a chemist means relating to an organism - perhaps alternatively the chemistry of Carbon - it has nothing to do with how food is grown.
To a lay person it has been changed to mean using non-chemical means of growth. But this is a more recent definition of the word - perhaps stemming from the use of natural fertiliser such as manure.

I was gobsmacked that consumers believe any of these labels without reading the fine print. Of course they stretch the truth if not out and out lie.

But further than that - why is something that is 'natural' any better for you? Heroin is a natural extract of poppy seeds but does that make it good for you? There are many, if not perhaps the majority, of natural products that are harmful. being natural is no guarantee of it being preferable or safer.

Secondly - the word 'green'. Many products are basically made from refined oil products and there is nothing green really about such products. All industry has some sort of emission if it is only impure steam. To add an ingredient which is supposedly made without emissions or some sort of environmental impact is nearly impossible.
The word 'organic' is hardly any better. Sure its production methods may be better in terms of the use of herbicides or fertiliser but likely its packaging is far from organic.

The world of advertising is full of gimmicks and it is something of which we should be cognisant - buyer should always beware.

Enjoyed "Lousy Labels"! Bringing to mind the 'Organic' labelling of food. Is there an agency to make sure it really is? On many different food items we see the term "ORGANIC" then "Certified Organic" then "Certified Organic USDA". Suggesting there are varing degrees of the term "ORGANIC" After 'Lousy Labels' on beauty treatments it scares me to think that farmers/marketers or brokers can do the same labelling on food items! Eg. an'ORGANIC'sticker on your banana or avacado with a very unethical 'what the hell, lets make more money'! Regarding 'USDA' Several times I have read accounts that strongly suggest and even accuse the 'USDA' has had very unsavoury political dealings!

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

I have to agree. It would help the general public if you did a show regarding "TRUE" natural products/ Organic products!!!!I'll be watching and waiting!!!

it's not that i disagree with the report...but come on, you've got to read the labels. if you can't pronounce it...it's probably not a good thing...keep in mind that uranium is also 'natural', but it doesn't mean i'm lathering on my face...also it wasn't lost on me that the experts books sales most likely increased significantly which begs the question; do any of her profits go towards 'green causes'? just curious.

Fabulous program, as usual. Unfortunately very little of it surprised me. I am very cynical about labeling generally speaking but this scam of using the words "natural" and "organic" are beyond belief. The man from the marketing agency missed the point entirely when he said it was the consumer's responsibility to be aware. Yes, we should all be informed label-readers but isn't it the job of HIS department to be the watchdog over labeling and inform the public when it is misleading?

Also, why are parabens NOT on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist list from Health Canada?

i too would like a follow up program about products that are truly natural. Your program was informative as well as disturbing. We all want to be responsible in our purchasing & we need to be able to trust labeling ( or carry a huge magnifying glass with us to the store).

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

Ditto!!!! I'm incredibly interested in all these false claims and unsafe products....now please, please tell me some company names that are organic/green/natural and safe!

loved your show !!! i have the book echoholic and also david suzuki is full of great info!!!

In reply to a comment from Janice

You have to be careful with the information on the Skin Deep website.
Though I applaud their attempt to provide a database to compare and understand the ingredients in cosmetic products, there is an incredible amount of outdated information on their website. When I emailed them with my concern they told me that they try to keep the site, "as up-to-date as possible by performing major updates each year". Honestly, it's not true. I found products that I have used in the past and have been discontinued for years still listed as though they are a current product. They also have no distinction for old formulations and currents formulas that are on the shelf right now.

Guess its back to the ancient way of washing hair. Anyone here remember when the cosmetics companies used to advertise shampoos by mocking people that used to wash their hair with Beer and Eggs. I guess beer and eggs are a lot more natural than than the crap out there, unless you're concerned about the preservatives in beer and antibiotics in eggs.

I was watching your show on Lousy Labels and it peaked my interest. Now I'm looking at all the labels with ny magnifying glass, as the printing is so small I can't read it.

Two comments, one Isn't it false advertisment?
Secondly, as I was watching,I was hoping you would give the top ten products that are living up to thier claims.

Such a great episode. I have found that the only way to find truly natural products is to buy them from small businesses who make them themselves. Even this can be tricky though. I was a big fan of Olivier until I found out they learn out the chemicals in their advertising campaigns!! Horrible. Like the girls said; always read your labels!!

In reply to a comment from Janice

The thing about skin deep is if the manufacture change the word like fragrance oil to fragrant oil it will get a no match and not an 8 on the danger scale. It is a good site for other things but they do have to watch these company that are purposely misleading their customers.

In reply to a comment from Susan

Susan, I can tell you for certain that the Body Shop's products are not organic or natural. Take a good look at their body wash & shampoo labels: Soduim-Lauryl Sulfate or S-Laureth Sulfate is one of the first ingredients. The Body Shop (BS) doesn't actually even claim to be natural... Their schtick is developing cottage industry in "3rd World", for lack of a better term, countries. In addition, the people working in their shops have little to no understanding of the products they're selling -- just try asking some questions & you'll quickly discover the levels of ignorance about their own products!

I too was outraged at the nerve of these companies. To think they are putting dangerous ingredients in products for babies. Personally I make many of my body care products.
This is the perfect opportunity for all of us to purchase a book (there are lots--especially in the Health Food Stores) and make your own products. They are easy to make. You can store them in glass jars or -- be careful -- purchase plastic containers that won't leach harmful phalates into your products. Go to www.leas.ca for lots of information on safe products. They have a booklet you can purchase for next to nothing and it is full of all sorts of household products and which ones are safer than others.

Thanks Adria Vasil! We need more people and more show taking about the issues you have been so passionate about. I do believe change is happening and agree we must write letters, vote with our dollars, show companies we are becoming more educated and it's not ok anymore!!!

Over thirty years ago, I was told that it was impossible for me to be allergic to chemicals and perfumes... certain scents cause me to experience severe migraine. Because this happened to me before the advent of "green" or "organic" products, I learned to clean naturally and effectively with vinegar, baking soda and lemon.
When our kids were babies, we only used baby wipes for travelling. We kept their change tables in or near the bathroom where we could use warm water and soap to keep their bottoms clean. This was also convenient to dispose of waste and contain the smell. Our kids rarely experienced diaper rash and then we used cornstarch and not talcum powder or scented oils.
Today, there are some wonderful products that are not even marketed as green. I love the new generation of microfibre cloths for floors, dusting and especially cleaning windows and mirrors. Dryer balls are the next best thing to hanging out your laundry. They save energy, soften clothes and use absolutely no chemicals. Laundry balls are really good too, although I will also add baking soda and vinegar to my teenager's laundry to help eliminate odours. Steam cleaners use alot of energy, but they really work and also freshen the air at the same time.
Two of our kids were diagnosed as asthmatic. They rarely require medication and have never had to go to the emergency room for treatment. I credit our green home and cleaning methods for their good health.
The worst products for my scent-induced migraines are scented fabric softeners. I am outraged that I cannot go out for a walk without breathing all of their toxic pollution and risk losing days to an excruciating migraine. Why do people equate perfume with fresh? And how do they not understand how harmful this is? I am grateful that you exposed "lousy labels", but I am also worried that people will give up on green and go back to using products that may be even worse.
FYI Just purchased book on green beauty and am hoping to learn more healthy DIYs.

Please don't stop sharing this information with people. Many, many people want to know this information but do not know where to start or who to trust. Is it the truth or is it just clever marketing, how do you really know? We are doing our best to get the word out there..and we need YOUR help! thank you, thank you, thank you!

The people whose cupboards' were exposed on the show - they had an abundance of toiletry products. If you really want to protect the environment, reduce the number of superfluous products you buy.

So glad I watched this show. I'm not a huge user of natural products and after watching this episode now believe that those who choose to do so have to pay special attention. How sad we have become such an untrusting society.

I would suggest making your own shampoo. Liquid castille soap plus glycerin and add scent. All natural plus you know what is in it. For bar soap, it is more involved but can use olive oil and lye.

Thank you for doing this program. I would be interested in two things. I would like you to do a follow up show letting us know which companies and products or product lines are what they say they are, and are great safe products. I would be interested in knowing if there are any groups or organizations out there to join that are working in this area, have the product knowledge. and knowledge of all the good companies. Cheers :)

PT Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute", and that quote quickly came to mind while watching this episode.

There's the (unjustified) assumption that a product with "natural" or "organic" in its name, or even one with a "green leaf" on the label, are healthier for you and better for the environment than other products due to the positive connotation of these words and images.

Well, that's a bogus assumption. You know, horse manure could be considered "natural", could it not? What's that they say about a fool and his money?

Lobbying by corporations and agencies like the Canadian Cosmetic and Toiletry Association should be AGAINST THE LAW. Corporations have one main goal which is PROFIT. The average person does not THINK to ask what ingredients are made of, or for that matter read labels. The corporations know this and take advantage of people. People generally believe and trust in their government that they are taken care of and therefore don't need to ask questions. So that overweight man from the CCTA saying the public should enquire if they have a problem or question pertaining to an ingredient confirms to me that NO CORPORATION, NO GOVERNMENT, NO AGENCY can be trusted. That's REALLY too bad. I will fight against you now. TRUTH IN LABELLING!!!!!!!

We all grow up watching commercial and should be smart enough to know companies always overstate the benefit of their products. And will slap whatever in trend at the time to make a quick buck. As a consumer if you are naive enough to fall for their scam then well you got yourself to blame. I always buy the product that is in my price range not base on their label claimed. And if you are so consicience of what you are using then reading the ingredients is the safest bet. So be alert and be a smart consumer instead waiting for the government to step in and good luck in waiting of an honest company. Their only goal is to make profit not concern about your health or idealogy.

The Environmental Working Groups's Cosmetic Safety Database, called Skin Deep is an excellent resource for shoppers. I have used many times!! It also has a sunscreen guide for consumers. False Skin Cancer Foundation labels are also a concern, fooling consumers that products tested and regulated. Big companies and corporations are all about profit, with no ethics!
Avoid Loose Mineral SPF Face Powder! Toxic!
I applaud Adria for her determination, and Skin Deep (EWG).

I think it is disgusting how there are not more guidelines. However I was taught at an early are to never judge a book by it's cover. Read the labels. Research the engredients before purchasing them. Most purchases are done spontaneously anyhow, so wait, go home and research. If it still sounds good then go back and purchase it. Remember what you've learnt by watching this episode. Never buy a product for it's appearance.

I don't often buy "natural" or "organic" products on the assumption that they wouldn't stay fresh long. However, I have bought organic food for several years; the Ontario and Canadian government regulations are quite stringent for both local and imported organics. Perhaps this sounds cynical, but I have often felt that the rules were originally made so strict as a favour to the large food intersts.

I would be interested in the Lush line of products. Are they a safe alternative?

Interesting to note Commissioner Aitken response of March 16, wherein he states "The Bureau has a responsibility to conduct its examinations confidentially in a thorough and complete manner..". obviously he is not so thorough checking his mail before sending it. I believe "misleading" has only one "e". It would appear that The Bureau doesn't want to hear from Marketplace again!

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

I know it's not right to advertise on here, so it's tough to point you in the right direction, but I know of a great online store and the owners research *every* ingredient of every product to make sure it's safe. Google "Leaf and Bud Naturals" and you'll find them.

Your program re-enforces one's cynicism about so much of the marketing that includes words like green, natural and eco friendly. In fact I can not ignore that your very program is payed for by a truck advertisement that offers 'Eco Boost'.

I saw the JASON body wash on the counter, I'm so happy it didn't receive a lousy label, or at least I hope it didn't. I've memorized a small list of the chemicals I try to avoid in my products, and my friend and I have gotten in the habit of shopping and only purchasing after we've read the labels. I'm amazed by how restrictive our selections at big stores like Shoppers Drug Mart are. I have to agree with Competitive Bureau rep, it is a responsibility we have as consumers to know where our products come from. Its a big issue currently, we are too far removed from everything we see package in stores.

In reply to a comment from Taryn

Her name is Adria Vasil and she writes the Ecoholic series. =)

what happened to the box sent to the gov. with all the lousy label products???

I believe the time has come for the Canadian Government and all Governments for that matter to held accountable for all illnesses that we all or eventually are going to be succumbed to.
Enough is enough!
What is Government for besides for the vain and egotistical pageantry which almost always, no, always leads to no progress in the protection, improvement of and sustainability of the human condition.
Time to buckle down and actually do something to make and actual difference. Shame to the highest degree should be realized.

To start with everyone at the Competition Bureau should be fired for allowing all of these toxins to target us daily through the health and beauty products and also through the food in grocery stores waiting for unsuspecting soles to purchase them. I am sickened to see that so many rich and powerful manufacturers have free reign to do as they please and poison all of us including our children. They need to be stopped and forced to stop targeting us with toxins or forced to shut down...no in between! It is time for the people and for the government to stop turning a blind eye to these damaging practices. These producers should be footing the bill to clean up our environment and pay our medical costs with all of the damage their toxins have caused. They've made their billions at our expense, now it's time to turn the tables!

I was so glad to finally see an episode that targeted these bogus 'natural' claims. While I'll admit that I have products in my home that contain toxic ingredients, I've made it habit to run my list of ingredients through the 'Skin Deep' website to see how their claims stack up to reality. Frankly it's shocking how many products have toxic substances inside the bottle/jar.

My name brand shampoo may be contaminated with traces of formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), and my name brand toothpaste contains an ingredient that's an endocrine disruptor.

The onus should not be put on the consumer to prove that a product isn't carcinogenic, or bioaccumalative, or hormone disrupting...we need to DEMAND that these manufacturers PROVE that their products are safe before they hit the shelves.

fyi...there's a bill currently before parliament (Bill C-388) that would require that manufacturers put a LABEL on any product that contains a known toxic substance. You can help make the first step towards change, write your MP and voice your concerns.

A great show. Thank you! I'll try and remember not to buy those things. But who was that "chubby" man who kept saying it's "the buyer's responsibility to read the label" -- you would have to be a chemist to understand three-quarters of what is 'claimed' to be in the product. I just hope he wasn't the 'government representative' .

Well looky here! Health Canada has removed its link to find the hotlist of unsafe chemicals in our cosmetics and personal care products! Anyone have the original list?

I am furious at our Government and how they are not protecting us from toxic additives in the health and beauty products and also in the food that is being sold to us. We are being poisoned and no one is held accountable. The manufacturers that are producing these toxic goods should be severely penalized and should be liable for all of the medical costs incurred due to their toxins that we are being exposed to and they should immediately be forced to provide us with completely safe products. Shame on all of them!!

Damn it!!!!! It is about time some parameters are set for these bastards, it is absolutely frightening what they get away with!!!! Natural or organic read the label!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Starting from the baby shampoo that is poison!!!! OMG it makes me sooo angry!!

Great show tonight. Very Informative. I will certainly be passing this info along to family and friends.
It would be great to see a list of products that are truly organic, natural and a healthy choice.
Keep up the great work keeping us informed!

I`m curious about products from LUSH,Burt`s Bees and Aveda and so on.
I hope you will do another episode on this issue. Really disappointing..

I was wondering if you could give me any information about the ingredients in Burt's Bees shampoo, the Body Shops shampoos, and Giovanni shampoos. Thank you for all your help!

Thank you. I have been trying to explain to people that just because it is labeled organic or natural doesn't mean that it won't make me sick.

If I find a product that doesn't make me sick, I try to stick to it. Seventh Generation laundry soap may be ok for stuff that has a lot of perfume on it for the first few washes, but their laundry soap is too strong for me. I have used the Nature Clean laundry soap ever since ABC changed their formula. It is a rip off the price but I don't really have a choice unless I want to be sick all the time instead of just some of the time.

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

Didn't have enough money in the CBC budget (i.e. our taxes) to buy the products they should have shown. Does it feel good that our money went to buy these over priced chemistry experiments by Mother CBC?

great program. I walk around with a list of all the bad stuff we find in products and yet I missed the Avalon conditioner. You have to do a program on cleaning supplies a bet you there is no much misleading on those product too. I could not believe the reaction the reaction of the Consumer watch dog, and how he kept putting the total responsibility on the consumer.

It's appauling to me that Government doesn't take a stand and stop companies from adding poisons to products, in the first place. It's about time they take responsibility and standardize labeling, rather than misleading the consumer to "think" that the product is "organic" and good for you, when it is "in fact" slowly killing you.
All consumers should be vigilant, stop buying products and demand for Government to enforce strict regulations. Labeling should be common language, NOT scientific.

In reply to a comment from Bob

I could not agree more with your comment on the idiotic gentleman who kept saying it was the consumers responsibilty to investigate what we are buying. Why are any of the ingredients listed if there is no way of knowing which one is correct. I wonder why the government does not clamp down on these issues

While I cannot comment on personal care product labels, having run an organic food business, I can assure viewers and readers that organic food labeling is assigned only when the product in question passes through several checks to determine its growing standards. An organic food cannot be labeled as such unless proven to be grown without pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and growth hormones.
Furthermore,I noticed that with the exception of Seventh Generation, all of the products in the study where those produced by large corporations like Johnson and Johnson and Huggies. What is happening is that the big companies are riding on the coattails of smaller ones that have done the legwork and have been selling their authentically Natural products for years; Clorox's "Greenworks" is a great example of this.
Marketplace would have done well to mention the dozens of truly Organic products available from smaller manufacturers. Do some research and if the customer "service" people refuse to answer your questions, tell then they've lost your business.

You know, I watched this episode and had to laugh. Why does Marketplace reduce the "consumer" to over-worked, over-wrought mother "with two children". If you're complaining about the ingredients of a product then do buy that product. It is as simple as that. But wait — if you want totally "natural" products you have to go to Body Shop, or any health food shop and spend 10x even 20x more for a similar product. Do you want convenience and cheap or do you want natural or organic (and think about it, what do those words even mean) at ludicrous prices.

Here's something you should investigate, and it's right down the alley of this silly episode. L'Oreal makes a product called Magic Perfecting Base. I don't see any ingredient that are magical in it at all — no eye of newt, frog legs or bat's breath. Nothing like that. I suggest you call L'Oreal and ask them what percentage of that product IS magic. You'll see how stupid this episode really was.

I don't know why Marketplace thought they would actually get any straight answers out of Darren Praznik of the Cosmetic Marketing Board. This guy was a Tory cabinet minister in Manitoba in the 1990s. Among other things he was Minister for Labour during record layoffs and Minister of Health during massive Nursing layoffs, shortages, and the longest strike in history. He is also directly responsible for "hallway" medicine in Manitoba. He is a smug, opportunist who contributed to the deterioration of the standard of living for many Manitobans. Now, he's national. Great.

The average Joe (or Jane) doesn't want to do any critical thinking. 35 years ago when I was only 7 I was thinking about odd it was that kool-aid (or jello or soft-drinks) could have 'artificial flavour'. They may have flavours that are not derived from plants; they may be made in a laboratory; but they are not 'artificial' - they are REAL flavours. They have a real taste not an imaginary one. It comes down in that case (and the 'natural/organic' cases) to definitions.
Another thing the general populace doesn't think about: organic produce generally requires far more land than the equivalent non-organic (because of smaller yields when skipping commercial fertilizers and higher losses when skipping pesticides) so they contribute to excess land and water use.
And of course when people let me know that they have the impression than 'natural' is always better, I remind them that poison ivy is also natural.

In reply to a comment from Gerald Vandenberg

This is a great idea! This was an important show, now we need the sequel. Please highlight for us 'good' 'green' companies and products to help us consumers to know who/what to trust! Thank you!

Great episode
But what about telling us the best products, (most natural/ most organic / best bargain for a natural or organic product)

I'd now like to know what kind of shampoo and other products i should be buying

Why isn't there a government control over these so called natural or organic products. It seems they are contaminated by different chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment they end up in.These large corporations are stealing our money by charging more for products that are not what they are suppose to be.Some of these executive should be placed in jail for the crimes they are committing.

Excellent episode. Am furious - I have 3 of the products on your top 10 list in my home. Especially ticked at Seventh Generation - I never trusted Huggies to begin with, but I thought Seventh Gen. were the good guys. Heading out tomorrow to stock up on more cloth diapers.

Think this stuff is bad? Take a hard look at your shampoo... any shampoo. Organic, natural or otherwise. Almost all of it contains sodium lauryl sulfate. This chemical has been evaluated dozens of times in dozens of uses. Check out the Environmental Working Group's website for references to research done to help avoid this and many other dangerous ingredients (both for the sake of your skin and system, and for the sake of the environment).

In reply to a comment from Susan

Check out the database 'Skin Deep' for personal care products rated according to their toxicity. Ingredient lists are given as well as explanations of what the ingredients are. Links are also provided for purchasing products either online or from retailers. Prepare to be amazed... and shocked about what is actually in those products!

Great program AGAIN! What we noticed that both you and your chemist had to, understandably, use a magnifying glass to read the labels. To "wade" through the labels and then evaluate this information is extremely difficult for the average for someone with "chemical savvy" (such as myself) let alone a layperson who does not have that background.
The same problem occur with most of the labels on products that we typically buy. For example, try to evaluate the "fruit punches", to evaluate cat or dog food to pick the right set of ingredients for a diabetic pet, to evaluate liquid soaps for concentration of the active ingredients, or to evaluate over-the-counter medicines with even smaller fonts, etc. etc.
Even when the correct information is on a container, such as "liquid chloine" bleach, it may be difficult to locate, and then one must examine the containe size for 5 litres vs. one US gallon size.
I do read labels (when I can see them) and make a decision on purchase depending on what I have determined.
Perhaps you can produce another program based on these comments!
By the way be careful too much dihydrogen oxide in a product as it will devalue the acyive ingredients. (I do believe it may be a "natural" product but may have some of its molecules associated with historical figures or animals!)

Now that you shared the lousy lables with us how about showing us what product is green and safe to buy. I am now confused

This goes to show.... "there is one born every minute". And that is what these industries rely on. As a chemist I deal with the frustration of the "Organic" and "Natural" labels. All I can say is read the labels and educate yourself. Good luck!

In reply to a comment from sharon

ecoholic, i forget her name

Thank you so much for doing this show!! I had actually just clued in about Avalon products, having thought to look them up on this great site called Skin Deep; however, I had NO idea about 7th Generation diapers and am outraged that I spent so much money on them. I honestly cannot believe that they dye them that colour and also had no idea that the traditional disposables were not made using chlorine bleach! I assumed (the words of an 8th grade teacher come to mind: "...when you assume, you make and ass out of u and...") that they would not contain petrochemicals. I considered myself an educated consumer... they will be hearing from me. I'm also really glad that you exposed the crap that goes into baby products in general. I cringe when I see mums slathering parabens and other junk all over their little babes; and get a similar feeling when I see little girls using fun and fruity but carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting lip glosses, make-up, nail polishes, skin creams, and hair products. Day at the Spa indeed. Anyway, thank you and keep up the great work!!

I hate seeing people being duped but remember that this whole green/organic thing is a media promotion and merits exactly that amount of respect. Sensational promotion does nothing. Take it all with a grain of salt (organic of course).

Cleaning products - plain cheap vinegar and baking soda,also use homemade goatmilk soap and see the ingredients used. We do NOT need suds to clean products, just break the surface tension of your clean water. Maybe we should go back to our grandparents days on the farm.

In reply to a comment from Susan

Hi Susan: I feel the same way as you. I just started to switch my family over from the common drugstore/grocery store products to all natural products mostly from health food stores. You have to do a lot of label reading and research but its worth it! We are slowly but surely switching over! Good luck!

I thought the "Green" movement was ecologically healthier. But it is just a boondoggle. Stick the word green on it and charge 1.20 more per unit.
how tragically human:-(

whats the website name with the canadian list of toxic chemicals. and was the list shown on the last episode for cosmetic chemicals? plz help me with this serious dilemma.

I buy natural products as much as I can and am so happy to see that none of my products were on the list. The Seventh Generation diapers shocked me. Seventh Generation is a brand I trust.

The most important thing for me when buying products are that there are no parabens, sulfates or pthalates (this includes the label "fragrance" or "parfum") If you can find products that are free from all of those you are fairly safe - or at least better off than most products.

Did anyone catch the name of the book or the woman's name who was the expert on the show?

That smug marketer who basically repeatedly said 'It's the consumer's responsibility to verify with the company every ingredient on the label' even though he knows that almost all of these are proprietary formulas (ie. they aren't going to tell you) - just more evidence that big business runs government. Also he demonstrates that marketers are sleazebags.

I have to wonder how much outcry would be needed from the public to convince the government of the need for more rigorous (and not voluntary) standards when it comes to labeling in this industry. Whenever I watch programs like this I always take out my pen and write a letter or two to the appropriate bodies. I hope that everyone else who is reading this and thinks that it is ludicrous will also take action, not only by becoming an informed consumer but also by pressuring governments and companies, via letters of concern and other appropriate means, and also by educating others and sharing the information that you have learned. If there were ever words to live by they were spoken by Gandhi when he said "Be the change you want to see in the world". We can do more than simply switch which products we are using. Once again thank you Marketplace for bringing such important issues to light for the public.

I read every ingrediant of every product I consider buying...you only have to do it once and people who are duped by labels and advertising deserve it. Depending on the goverment to fix it only raises the prices of goods. If you read the ingrediants and you don't like or understand what the ingrediants are, don't buy it.Ostracism is the best deterrant for faulty labels. Not having the time to read labels is a lame excuse.

In reply to a comment from victor

victor - that is not what organic means when it comes to food. Organic food is that which is grown without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, and without genetically modified organisms.

Just goes to show you that our government have a bunch of jobs created off of our tax dollars and they will not do what the job was created to do. They are there to protect the big business not the people. We need a police system in place to watch the people who are there to protect us , that is sad!!!

The Competition Bureau's response is not surprising but nonetheless frustrating! Are they not too deserving of the "lousy Label"! Where is the accountability? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Some people should have a lousy label on their job

If you really want to send those lousy-label-personal-care-product-manufacturers for a tail spin, start using products on your body that are good enough to eat! Since organic foods are strictly regulated, use personal care products from the grocery store that have a short ingredient list of one item, like organic virgin coconut oil or organic sunflower oil on your body after your shower before you dry off for amazingly soft skin! As with any product that you use, a patch test is always recommended to ensure that there are no allergies prior to using.

Organic is defined by coming from a living organism. So steel is inorganic and meat is organic. Organic meat means nothing to me as meat is organic as is corn etc... Perhaps we should just have a label that tells us content... Organic Fruit is by definition

We need more shows like Marketplace to inform the consumer!

I am so disillusioned. I feel as if I should throw away almost everything I've ever purchased and get as much back to basics as I can. What are we doing to each other in the name of money?

CONSUMER are paying too much for false advertised products and some buy products made in China where there are hardly any regulations on products.

Do you have a list of good products that are actually organic and natural? I am unsure of all my choices now...Tom's, Burt's Bees, Aveda, The Body shop??
Some guidance would be most helpful of the best products of this nature out there for consumers.

Interesting how everything was "proprietary" and that the onus is on the consumer rather than manufacturer. And remember, if a product contains water it can be labeled "contains natural ingredients". Companies will do whatever it takes to make a sale. As usual, it is and unfortunately always will be "Buyer beware."

In reply to a comment from patti

Did you know that "botantical(s)" is not a word but a ******* made up by the advertising industry to confuse you.

Hurrah - Market place does it again. Of course, anyone with an oz of brains or common sense can figure it out. You who worshipped at the Body Shop and believed their ads certainly consumed a lot of harmful chemicals.

Consumers have the power, if we support the truly healthy products, more will come on the market and the unhealthy items will wither away.

Companies can claim to be "organic" if their formula contains a single drop of an organic ingredient...like a trace amount of organic Aloe Vera, for example. Always read ingredient labels! The first 3-4 ingredients are the most important as they will be the bulk of the product, so start with that.
Companies who have nothing to hide will be transparent about what's in their products. Look for products made by smaller companies, as generally they are the ones with the greatest integrity, or so it seems.

In reply to a comment from Derek

Actually Derek, there have been a couple recent studies and a few food shows have looked at MSG, and found that it is no less healthy than any other food, compound, etc. In one test, half the participants in a restaurant were given food that contained MSG, and the other half without: they all thought they had MSG and knew they were taking part in a study (None were told half of them had no MSG). Apart from a few people experiencing side-effects, the test subjects couldn't tell. Interestly enough, the people who complained of symptoms from MSG were equally from both groups.

In side by side tests, people tend to favour the flavour of food with MSG. Go figure.

In reply to a comment from Ryan

Welcome to the world of big food, big pharma and big oil.
The agencies that re supposed to police them are actually in their pockets. The best example is aspartame. It's probaly the deadliest thing existing in foods, but is "proven" safe by Health Canada and the FDA. You don't have to dig very deep to find blatant yet ignored conflicts of interest.

In reply to a comment from Mike

You certainly have to decipher the ingredients, but just because it starts with mono, di, tri, or has some name you don't understand doesn't mean it is either good or bad...it is just a name, like a person's name, and like that, it doesn't determine whether or not the chemical is harmful or not. Monosodium glutamate is probably best avoided; Sodium bicarbonate is not a big deal (baking soda); L-Ascorbic acid is pretty vital (vitamin C). Don't judge a compound (or person for that matter) by its name. As you said, decipher the ingredient and see what it does (good and bad) and then judge whether or not you want to consume it.

Bottom line, you still have to decipher the ingredients: I would suspect anything with more than five syllables and starts with tri-, di-, or mono-, and sounds like the evil substance in a sci-fi movie is likely not healthy...

Can you give us a list of ingredients that are hormone disruptive, canrcinogenic, etc., along with the article? Did not see one and this would finish off your piece rather than leave us hanging.

In past accessed a National Geographic site that listed these but cannot locate it anomore.

How can this be aloud, this screams of false advertisement and fraud. Where is the accountability? Standards and/or regulations. This is no different then bottling Arsenic and labeling it baking powder.

I will watch your report on this with keen interest, but I can't say I will be surprised. Though I tend to favour "natural" health and beauty products, I read labels religiously. I have to since I made the mistake of buying a bottle of apricot kernel oil, thinking it would be a good moisturizer for my skin only to discover to my horror, after smearing it all over my freshly washed face, that I am very allergic to it--it made me break out in hives! There aren't many health and beauty products that contain this ingredient, but a couple of major brands have it--one in an eye cream and the other in their body washes, both of which I considered buying. And what really bothers me now that I'm in my late 40's is how small the print is getting on labels--I have to carry a magnifier with me everywhere I go. So the fact that so-called "natural" and "organic" products are being busted for not being so is no surprise to me. As hard as manufacturers are trying to make it for consumers (especially us older ones) to read ingredients on the labels, I'm not fooled--I haven't been for years. That nasty surprise allergy has made me very skeptical. I shop for "natural" products to avoid certain ingredients, not in the hope that everything in them will actually be natural. I'm not that gullible.

I agree wholeheartedly with Tom above. Beauty product manufacturers are having a heyday with 'green washing'!
I rely on certified symbols as a guarantee of food products for sure. Getting food regulated as certified organic has taken years, so please do not confuse for consumers. I am currently in debate with a local retailer and skin health centre on one of their products I recently purchased. Apparently 'Loose Mineral Powders with SPF are anything but good for the health!
The Environmental Working Group and Skin Deep Database, is a fantastic consumer resource for beauty & hygiene product ingredients. Please tell the public, and hope you already know!

Just watched the preview on Firday's Market Place and would like to mention the follwoing. I hope you will inform the viewers that the word organic used in the food industry is regulated by the Federal government. I would hate to see organic farmers have consumers loose faith in organic vegetables. I agree we should regulate the organic cosmetic industry; however, this should be done as a soverign country law not by an international governing body. The corporate world has taken hostage the words "natural remedies" and thus confusing the consumer (e.g. MSG can be labled as natural ingridient due to this chmeical found in tomatoes). The same is happening to the word organic. This is yet another set up through a pretense cause, which could easily be solved by Canadian regulations, not international intervenence.

As always, it is ‘let the buyer beware’. As Canadians we have been lulled into complacency about the safety of the products that are for sale on our store shelves - even the so called ‘natural'ones. I had naively believed that if a product was for sale in Canada that there must have been some agency [Health Canada, perhaps?]doing rigorous testing to ensure that the product would do Canadians no harm. Was I ever wrong!

When my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, I started investigating the personal care and home cleaning products my family was using. I was shocked that ‘dibutyl phthalate’, which converts to a xeno-estrogen in our bodies was not only a component in the rubber ducky my child chewed on and the plastic film I wrapped my food in, but was also present in the Canadian shampoos/conditioners, nail polish, fragrances, and face creams that we slathered on our bodies. What was even more shocking was that dibutyl phthalate was already banned in Europe at the time, but manufacturers for Canadian products were still allowed to use formulations which included this harmful hormonal chemical.

If consumers want to know more about the products that they are using, there is a very useful site called ‘Skin Deep’ (The Environmental Working Group), which lists the product ingredients and tells about the risks of using that particular product. Consumers have the power to change the marketplace by ‘voting with their wallets’ – all we need is the knowledge to make the safest choices. Before I buy a product, I always research the product ingredients and check it out on ‘Skin Deep’ because even so-called ‘natural’ ingredients may be risky. Only then will I hand over my money. ‘Let the buyer beware!’

I agree that labels can sometimes be confusing. However, I think that CONSUMERS, having the last word, ultimately dictate what companies produce and sell. Also, consumer reports clearly show that the more expensive natural- and organic-labelled products (whether certified or not) are purchased in majority by the middle and high income population, with the highest degree of education.

At some point, the consumer should take on SOME responsibility. Those people should be able to adequately read a label that fully respects advertising laws and guidelines. And if the label doesn't, fines are steep.

And as far as toxicity is concerned, to my knowledge, ALL ingredients contained in a product, as well as the quantity used, are 100% approved by Health Canada, so I've never been preoccupied about using any toiletry products that are being sold on the Canadian market.

I really hope that this report is not lumping organic food with natural food and organic beauty products as then this will be mis leading and harmful to consumers instead of helping. Organic food is regulated and certified, it is real, the consumer needs to look for the Canadian Organic Regualtion seal (COR) on the product and they have assurance it is more than the manufacturers word. It is "Natural" food that is unregulated and a meaningless marketing term, as well the term "Organic" is not regulated on beauty aids (shampoo, etc) so if it says Organic the consumer should look for a certified product with a seal of a reputable certifier like Pro Cert Canada. If it says Natural wether it is food or a beauty product don't bother as it means nothing because our Government has done nothing to protect the consumer from this every popular mis leading marketing term that is totally unregulated and uncertified. You need to seperate the real from the fake or you are going to do more harm than good, please ensure you make sure you seperate Organic Food from the others as it is regulated, certified, and real.

I've always been very careful about labels that say natural or botanicals on the bottle because many natural, botanicals are toxic like arsenic. I had hoped that organic meant more though.
The labels unfortunately often sound like a travel brochure, written in extravagant language whose only purpose is to seduce your wallet. PB

 
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