Confused by labeling practices I have seen

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earlene

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If this is in the wrong place, mods, I am sorry. Please move as needed.

My husband & I are on a road trip, currently in Arkansas. When I can I like to visit artisans shops or booths & I generally purchase at least one or two items because it feels like the right thing to do after taking up their time.

However, at the last couple of soap artisans from whom I purchased, the labels seem to be missing information I thought was required. Maybe I misunderstand the regulation, though.

For soap without a cosmetic claim is net weight required when selling?

For soap with a cosmetic claim (example: a pine tar soap for exzema, psoriasis) a net weight is required, correct?

Is it acceptable to use the same label for all soaps in a store and only write the name of the soap on the label when wrapping it for the customer, without listing the particular EOs, FOs or other additives? I think not if what I read in the regulations pertains.

Or is this such a fuzzy area that these labeling practices are okay? I am a little confused on the subject.

In addition to the labeling issues at both different shops, at least 75 to 100 miles apart and not owned by the same people, I was told the soap for sale was 2 weeks old and ready to be used now. These are cold process soaps. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that since the actual soapmakers were not present in either shop, that the assistant was not quite familiar with the fact of curing. Even so I do intend to weigh both soaps weekly a few times to be sure they have cured sufficiently before using them.
 

Arimara

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Wow... You're a nice person. I would not have bought the soaps since there apparently is no info on what was used to actually make it. I do NOT trust merchants that much to risk my health or worse, my child's health.

The merchants that failed to properly label their soaps and on top of that, are stupid and irresponsible enough to sell insufficiently cured soaps to people really don't deserve your money but need to ultimately suffer the due consequence of their presumed greed. I may not be a merchant but even I know that your products are supposed to list all ingredients used. Allergies are no joke. And to not do some thorough research on soapmaking and selling 2-week old soap? Ugh..:evil:
 

Susie

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A cursory search of "FDA labeling requirements for soap" yielded the following:

http://www.learnsoapmaking.com/other_labeling_soap.html

http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm115449.html

http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/Labeling/Regulations/ucm126444.html

I would not have purchased the soap, either, and for the same reason. I am, as I speak, making ingredient labels for soap I am giving away to friends and family. It is only right to help them protect themselves against allergic reactions, even though I asked about allergies before I started making the soap. But not listing ingredients for "soap" is not illegal. Just unwise.
 

earlene

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Thank you for your responses and the links. I got just the answers I was looking for plus I learned something more. I had not realized that exfoliation made soap a cosmetic. So my coffee soap would be considered a cosmetic because my husband likes it for its exfoliating properties. Would 'kitchen soap' that helps get rid of odors also be considered cosmetic?

I can certainly see why instructions for safe use would be important, though. Who wants to get an exfoliating ingredient in their eyes, for example? And now that I think of it, what would happen I used pine tar soap on my face or broken skin? Hmmmm...

Even as a consumer, I know I need to do more research. But now I am really torn about what I should do regarding these two soaps. I am thinking at the very least I should go to the businesses respective websites and attempt to contact the soapmakers with my concerns/questions. Maybe they don't know that what they are leaving off the labels is required. Maybe they don't know the defining criteria that makes a soap a cosmetic. But with one of them, who apparently just opened two more stores in two other states, she sure should know!

The other one makes soap using reclaimed vegetable oils from restaurants, mixed with new olive oil. I asked, how do you know the SAP value for calculating the lye? The soapmaker was not there, but her student was tending the booth and sales. She said the zap test and experience was how this soap was made right. The more I think about that the less safe I consider the soap. But I will see if contacting her via her website sheds any more light on the matter.

ETA: I see that the pine tar soap would actually have to meet drug labeling regulations, too.
 
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dixiedragon

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Possibly it's ignorance. Or possibly laziness. While it's technically the law to label your soap a certain way, unless somebody complains people can get away with it.

Interesting about "exfoliation". I wonder if you can get away with "scrub"?
 

snappyllama

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For soap with a cosmetic claim (example: a pine tar soap for exzema, psoriasis) a net weight is required, correct?
That's actually a medical claim - their product is then a drug which falls under FDA regulations. Personally, I wouldn't buy from anyone making those types of claims. It's illegal and unethical.

Don't get me started on the @%#$$@ essential oil charlatans I see at every craft fair... I have to take deep, cleansing breaths and just walk past them...
 

MySoapyHeart

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The soapmaker was not there, but her student was tending the booth and sales. She said the zap test and experience was how this soap was made right.
Oh dear..I would not be happy with an answer like that, it felt a bit snippy?

Sure, the zap test can tell you if it is a bit of residual lye left in the soap. But a zap test is not performed to measure wether or not a soap is wonderfull.

Reclaimed oils or not. (Eeww... but that is another topic.)

If bakers should use this method when they sell their goods, they would surely be in deep water...

- That bread looks good! What is in it?
- Flour and water
- What kind of flour?
- I don`t know. But the bread is great.
- How do you know?
- People buy it. And experience, that is why.
- Can you tell me if this bread contains xx or yy? I want to buy it for someone else, but they have some issues.
- No. I don`t know. But the bread is great.
- It has no label, why?
- It doesn`t need a label. It is a handmade product.

*eyeroll*

Even if the soap doesn`t burn off your skin it is soapers like this who can give handmade soap a bad rep. Unfortunately this will ruin it for everyone who do a conscientious job - wether they sell or not.

Let us know how they reply if you contact them!
 

cmzaha

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In my opinion it will do no good to tell her anything. It also does not good to report to FDA, they will not send out anyone to check. As for used oil it is fine to use it cleaned. I see all the oil that gets thrown out from the food vendors, but I am just to lazy to clean it in order to use it, other than bacon fat when I want to make bacon soap. When using used oil you can still use the sap value that goes with the oil. Unless you know the exact sap value which cannot be found for every brand of oil, we use an average for sap values, which is how soap calculators are designed. With most oils and soap calcs there is enough of a safety margin, where even using 0 superfat you will have a superfat.

There is a company that only uses re-claimed oil for their soapmaking. Sorry do not remember the name of the company
 

earlene

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That's actually a medical claim - their product is then a drug which falls under FDA regulations. Personally, I wouldn't buy from anyone making those types of claims. It's illegal and unethical.
I can't believe my own self for not recognizing that fact when I first posed my concerns. Even extreme tiredness at the time of the post does not explain how I failed to think 'drug'. After all I am a retired nurse plus I do have prescribed shampoo for psoriasis. One would think 'drug claim' would have been my first thought. I am almost too embarrassed to fess up to this!

Then again I am also wondering how much pine tar is actually in the soap because it doesn't have that strong odor I had read one can expect from a pine tar soap. When we get back home maybe I'll run over to Farm & Fleet to sniff whatever horse hoof treatment stuff they have to see what it was as I thought I am missing. :think:
 

snappyllama

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Then again I am also wondering how much pine tar is actually in the soap because it doesn't have that strong odor I had read one can expect from a pine tar soap. When we get back home maybe I'll run over to Farm & Fleet to sniff whatever horse hoof treatment stuff they have to see what it was as I thought I am missing. :think:
I use SUPer Pine tar in mine. That brand seems to have a more woodsy aroma from the container than some of the others I've looked at (Brickmans and some other brand I cannot think of right now). It also makes a lighter colored bar than some other folks' pine tar bars I've seen. Works a treat though!
 

penelopejane

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I think exfoliation needs a label (although I agree with everyone that every soap needs a label even if it is given away) because people don't realise that this pretty little dots can be scratchy!
Salt, coffee grinds, botanicals even vanilla bean seeds!
I've seen people (a soap co) advertise "African black soap" they bought African black soap, grated it and incorporated 5% black soap in their mix.
 
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earlene

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cmzah said:
As for used oil it is fine to use it cleaned. I see all the oil that gets thrown out from the food vendors, but I am just to lazy to clean it in order to use it, other than bacon fat when I want to make bacon soap. When using used oil you can still use the sap value that goes with the oil. Unless you know the exact sap value which cannot be found for every brand of oil, we use an average for sap values, which is how soap calculators are designed. With most oils and soap calcs there is enough of a safety margin, where even using 0 superfat you will have a superfat.

There is a company that only uses re-claimed oil for their soapmaking. Sorry do not remember the name of the company
I don't personally have a problem with the reclaiming oils idea, but doubt I would bother doing it myself. I do know a bit about frying oils used in restaurants and have personally poured that (to me) yucky frying oil into to waste oil container to be later picked up by a guy who gathered it for reclamation.

I did find a couple of companies that make reclaimed oil soaps. Frogsoap.com is in Oregon, USA and Furtherproducts.com is in Southern California, USA. Both apparently have made a successful business for themselves.
 
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TeresaT

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Not much grosses me out. The idea of reclaimed oil soap does. I've worked in restaurants when I was in high school. I know how long that grease has been in that fryer. Fryer grease smells funky. I don't know how on earth they could possibly get that smell out.

As far as the original post goes, Earlene, you are sooooo much nicer than me. I wouldn't buy anything that didn't have the ingredients listed or was appropriately wrapped. It could be in tissue paper or in individual sandwich baggies for all I care, as long as there is a label with the ingredients on it. Either way, it would be kept relatively safe from dirt and germs. I don't buy naked or unlabeled soaps. (I just threw in the naked soap thing. Because that seems to be very popular in my area. Ewww. My local grocery store has a naked soap display and all of the soaps are covered with dust. Nothing says, "Buy me!" like a pound of dust!)
 
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Steve85569

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I too label my give away soaps. Not just for the friend or relative that is getting the soap but so I can track how a recipe improves ( or not) with age. I include additives so I can track what aloe juice, sugar, coconut milk etc brings to the party.

I cannot imagine anyone selling a soap that is not labelled much less making broad claims ( cures snake bite) about the soap. I make soap not cosmetics or drugs.

Rant over.
 

Susie

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I had not realized that exfoliation made soap a cosmetic. So my coffee soap would be considered a cosmetic because my husband likes it for its exfoliating properties. Would 'kitchen soap' that helps get rid of odors also be considered cosmetic?


ETA: I see that the pine tar soap would actually have to meet drug labeling regulations, too.
It is not what the soap contains that makes it a drug. It is what you claim it does over and above "cleaning". You can say "extra cleaning" on the coffee soap with no further labeling. You say it "exfoliates", and you have a drug claim. See the difference? I am not sure I am explaining well.

You can say your "kitchen soap" cleans your hands. But not that it removes odors. I would still make the soap, and say it removes odors, just label it correctly with ingredients and such.

"Pine Tar Soap" is fine. It just needs a proper label if you are going to claim it treats anything besides dirty skin.
 

Earthen_Step

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It is not what the soap contains that makes it a drug. It is what you claim it does over and above "cleaning". You can say "extra cleaning" on the coffee soap with no further labeling. You say it "exfoliates", and you have a drug claim. See the difference? I am not sure I am explaining well.

You can say your "kitchen soap" cleans your hands. But not that it removes odors. I would still make the soap, and say it removes odors, just label it correctly with ingredients and such.

"Pine Tar Soap" is fine. It just needs a proper label if you are going to claim it treats anything besides dirty skin.
Exfoliate is a cosmetic claim not drug. If you label according to cosmetic standards you can claim exfoliation. Once I found this out I had to change all of my labels to the cosmetic standard. But doing so is nice, you can use a lot more wording to explain your product without fear of government intervention.

The basic guideline distinguishing between drug and cosmetic:

"Be aware that promoting a product with claims that it treats or prevents disease or otherwise affects the structure or any function of the body may cause the product to be considered a drug. FDA has an Import Alert in effect for cosmetics labeled with drug claims. For more information on drug claims, refer to Is It a Drug, a Cosmetic, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)." (fda source)

If it's only skin deep claims, and you don't hint at curing chances are you're making a cosmetic claim. If you say that it cures eczema, diaper rash, acne, psoriasis or anything like that it's a drug. Even if it has cured you of any of this, you can't claim it without FDA vetting processes. (FDA OTC drug application)

There are 3 tiers for possible soap labeling. Soap, cosmetic and drug. We first followed soap guidelines, but found we used cosmetic wording. To fix this we stepped up to cosmetic labeling requirements. It took a lot of time and energy to figure this all out. Nearly all soap I see around my area is labeled incorrectly. I've still bought some to see what their soap is like.

For soap without a cosmetic claim is net weight required when selling?
Net weight is required if you label your soap. You can leave your soap unlabeled -- you can't leave a cosmetic unlabeled.

For soap with a cosmetic claim (example: a pine tar soap for exzema, psoriasis) a net weight is required, correct?
Exzema, psoriasis would be drug claims. Pine tar is neither a cosmetic or drug claim, it's an ingredient. If you say something like "Pine tar soap, known in the past to treat..." you have broken into the realm of drugs. If you say "pine tar soap, helps moisturize and nourish skin". You are making cosmetic claims.

Is it acceptable to use the same label for all soaps in a store and only write the name of the soap on the label when wrapping it for the customer, without listing the particular EOs, FOs or other additives? I think not if what I read in the regulations pertains.

Or is this such a fuzzy area that these labeling practices are okay? I am a little confused on the subject.
It is legal to list your fragrances without listing the names. You can say "Fragrances" or "Essential oil blend" or "Fragrance oil blend" or something like that. I like to list every essential oil, there are people with allergies to certain ones and I'd like them to buy our product. But legally it's fine to leave your secret blend out.

Companies have put additives in the fragrance blend to hide them. I find that to be a shady practice and could be risky if you ran into someone with a reaction to a non fragrance additive secretly in there.
 

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