A popular organic baby care range has been fined almost $40,000 for alleged false and misleading claims about its organic products.
Dreamz Pty Ltd, trading as GAIA Skin Naturals (GAIA), has paid $37,800 in penalties for alleged false or misleading representations after the ACCC issued three infringement notices.
GAIA described its Natural Baby Bath & Body Wash, Baby Shampoo and Baby Moisturiser as “Pure ★ Natural ★ Organic”.
However, these products contain two synthetic chemical preservatives: sodium hydroxyl methyl glycinate and phenoxyethanol.
“Businesses making organic claims must be able to substantiate those claims. GAIA’s claims may have misled consumers into thinking these products are free from synthetic chemicals when they are not,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
This enforcement outcome with GAIA forms part of broader work by the ACCC relating to organic representations. Acting on information from stakeholders, the ACCC has assessed the use of organic claims across a range of businesses and products.
As part of this work, the ACCC identified concerns with a small number of Naturis Organic Breads’ products which do not contain synthetic chemicals or preservatives but contain a mix of organic and non-organic ingredients. In response to our concerns, Naturis has amended its website and the relevant product labels.
Certification is not legally required for a product supplied in Australia to be described as organic. However, where a company describes its product as organic, it must ensure that representation is not false, misleading or deceptive.
The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection provisions of the Australian Consumer Law.
GAIA’s response to the claims
In a statement GAIA said they have “worked collaboratively with the ACCC to understand their view. Whilst we do not believe that we have misled consumers; we have taken on board their feedback and will be making changes to our labelling to address their concerns.
“Our consumers are of paramount importance to us and in order to be even more transparent we will be updating our labelling to further clarify the ingredients in our products.
“We believe that the issue of the infringement notices by the ACCC is ahead of the law. Further, the decision to issue the three infringement notices was a negotiated outcome that was made together with us. Our decision to accept and pay the three infringement notices was done in the interest of resolving the matter in a commercial and collaborative manner. Importantly GAIA’s payment of the infringement notices is not an acknowledgment by us of any wrongdoing. We firmly believe that we have complied with the current Australian Consumer Law as well as Australian cosmetic standards and guidelines.
“GAIA takes great pride in being able to produce quality skincare for the whole family. We are able to substantiate and validate (with organic certificates) each of the organic ingredients contained within the three products in question. In addition all organic ingredients contained in the products are noted with an asterix on the packaging.”
“We do not nor have we claimed that the product is fully organic. Nor do we or have we marketed our products in this fashion. We disagree with the ACCC comments that the word “organic” means that the product doesn’t contain preservatives or chemicals when it comes to the cosmetic skincare industry. In fact, organic products in the market may contain synthetic chemicals and there is not currently a standard for the inclusion of organic ingredients in Australia. Nor is there an approved list for organic cosmetic manufacturers when it comes to preservatives and all water based products must contain a preservative.
“We stand by our claims that our products are free from harsh soaps, sulphates, petrochemicals, mineral oil, artificial fragrance, parabens, propylene glycol, phlates and lanolin and consumers should have confidence when using our products.”
Share your comments below