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Carbon-14 Analysis Brings Transparency to “Natural” Claims

Consumers all over the world are increasingly seeking more plant-based goods. The rise of plant-based eating is driven by multiple concerns including reducing environmental impact and supporting a healthy diet. This trend has also manifested in the cosmetics industry in the demand for natural, plant-based ingredients and packaging.

However, as noted in an article co-authored by Haley Gershon of Beta Analytic and Audrey Wesson of INOLEX, there is increasing consumer distrust of products claiming to be natural. This is largely because of “greenwashing,” when a product appears to be natural and eco-friendly because of its packaging or ads but the product itself is not truly natural nor eco-friendly.

Third-Party Authentication

In response, industries now use third-party authentication, including carbon-14 analysis, to validate natural source claims. A known amount of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 is contained in biomass while petroleum-based ingredients do not contain any carbon-14. Measuring a product’s biobased content is used as an effective tool allowing industries to communicate the use of biobased ingredients to consumers.

There are several third-party certification programs, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioProferred program, that recommend or require carbon-14 testing for eligible products to display certified biobased labels on their packaging.

For instance, the USDA BioPreferred program allows INOLEX, a personal care ingredients manufacturer, to achieve a certification that displays the specific percentage of biobased content for materials containing over 62% biobased content. This allows for the recognition of using primarily biobased feedstocks, even if it does not result in 100% natural-sourced ingredients.

In conclusion, the article attests that the combination of carbon-14 testing and biobased content certifications fosters greater clarity for consumers to identify plant-based ingredients and finished products in the marketplace.

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Image Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This entry was posted on Friday, December 13th, 2019 and is filed under Natural Product Testing .