Moms searching for baby food and formula with kind ingredients — the all-natural, organic stuff — may soon have to cross the offerings from Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company right off their short list. The celebrity’s line of products (she sells everything from baby formula to lip gloss) is facing some serious scrutiny again after people started noticing that the list of ingredients on her Organic Premium Formula are in fact not organic at all. That is, they’re prohibited in products that can be labeled organic.
Worse, some are highly suspect in that they’re federally “regulated as hazardous compounds,” according to a lawsuit filed against the company earlier this month.
This isn’t the first time Alba’s company has faced serious criticism this year. Just last month, a woman filed suit against The Honest Company for the use of sodium lauryl sulfate — a decidedly inorganic ingredient that can sometimes cause skin irritation — in her detergents, an allegation that was backed up by an independent testing company hired by The Wall Street Journal.
At the time, Alba said the company and WSJ were mistaken, saying that her company uses sodium coco sulfate, a gentler alternative. But when it comes to The Honest Company’s products getting under people’s skin, even the detergent dustup isn’t the first time; last year SheKnows found tons of dismayed mamas dropping one-star reviews all over Amazon.com on a page for the brand’s 30 SPF sunscreen, alleging that it was entirely ineffective and that their kids burned to a lobster-like crisp after applying the product.
This new lawsuit, filed by the Organic Consumers Association, specifically calls attention to 11 ingredients in The Honest Company’s infant formula, including sodium selenite, which the lawsuit calls “an extremely hazardous and toxic synthetic compound,” and calcium pantothenate, which is derived from formaldehyde.
There’s some debate over whether not being able to pronounce something means it’s not fit for human consumption — sodium selenite, for instance, is toxic in large amounts but can potentially be used as an effective supplement to lower diabetes risk — but what isn’t up for debate is that the ingredients in the lawsuit are prohibited from making an appearance in organic-label foods. If in fact they are present in larger-than-trace amounts in the infant formula, then The Honest Company won’t be able to label that product as organic in good faith. It would have to change it.
As more and more families move toward whole and clean eating, organic is going to have to really mean organic. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that people are definitely checking. They’re doing their homework, and if a company wants to promise “peace of mind,” as Alba’s does, it has to go above and beyond to make that happen.
Whether or not you believe that organic food and products are the magic bullet they are purported to be by the people who advocate their use is one thing. But we can all agree that if a person wants to purchase and pay for organic, and a company wants to market itself as organic and reap the additional financial benefits of the label, then the item in question should in fact be organic. If people are paying for something specific, that’s absolutely what they should be getting.
We hope The Honest Company’s products are found to be safe for infant consumption, and we hope that if they aren’t, the company will rectify that sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’re grateful that groups like the OCA are there to keep The Honest Company, well, honest.
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