The Success of EPA's New 'Safer Choice' Label
The Challenge of Hazardous Chemicals
It's no news that consumers today want products that are not only healthy and safe, but also good for the environment. For the food and beverage industry, this increased demand for better products has been driven by the desire to make healthier choices and be able to more easily understand what ingredients are contained in the item. And although the industry has recently been fraught with controversy, such as the ongoing debate regarding whether GMO labeling should be mandatory, the premise is relatively simple: Let consumers know exactly what ingredients are used in the product and don't try to deceive them with buzzwords and marketing gimmicks on the packaging and labeling.
When it comes to cleaning and household products, though, it seems things are a little more complex. Of course, the same principles of health and safety apply. Most consumers would agree that, if possible, they would like to avoid products that contain harsh or hazardous chemicals. Many might assume that, if it is on store shelves, it can't be that harmful. But, as Vermont Public Radio recently pointed out, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulation of chemicals - and its governance has been somewhat limited by the Toxic Substance Control Act.
Discovering a Labeling Loophole
The source pointed to some events that demonstrate the conflict between the court and the EPA, such as hazardous levels of PFOA being found in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York's water and when EPA was prohibited from banning asbestos in the early '90s. These are just some examples of instances that helped drive the EPA to its development of the Safer Choice Label program - a voluntary initiative aimed at providing companies - and consumers - with a better way to further evaluate the safety of chemicals in products.
"We realized was that, if we put a simple label on a product that people can see - we put that on a product that is safer, it's a safer choice for household products - that people will respond to that, that consumers will regulate with their dollars," EPA Top Administrator Gina McCarthy explained to the source. She added that the organization is extremely thorough in its science-backed research. And the terms of the Safe Choice program are pretty simple and straight-forward.