Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Question: Organic products and preservatives

In this post about preserving scrubs, Drei said...i think its better that there should be no preservatives. in my opinion, one there is a preservative in one's product it just make it less organic. thus there is also a some effects if you put some preservatives in it. that is why some people get allergies.

I appreciate your opinion, but I think I'd rather have a well preserved and safe product that uses 0.5% to 1% of a proven, broad spectrum preservative than an organic product that could be contaminated the moment I open it. Some people are allergic to preservatives, but I would argue that the small chance of an allergic reaction to a small amount of preservative is preferable to exposing someone I care about to contaminants that could cause serious health effects.

Besides, an organic product needs only to be 95% organic, so you could use a good preservative at 0.5% and still have something that is organic, but you'd have something that is both organic and safe. (Although the word organic is thrown around so much, it's really a useless descriptor these days!)

I know there is some debate around preserving scrubs, but if you're going to add water to a product - even water from your hand (or should I say especially if it's water from your hand!) - you need a preservative. I don't think you can really go wrong with a good, broad spectrum preservative in a product that might not need it! If you give the product to a friend and they have a reaction, then try another preservative. I'd rather have a friend suffer an allergic reaction to a safe, well preserved product than feel the guilt of having exposed them to some sort of contamination that could have long term health effects (or, worse yet, if you're selling products, having them sue you!). 


Tara said...

Just too funny to even comment on... ;-)

Robert said...

The last several posts on natural preservatives have been very interesting and informative. The more one studies preservatives, the more confusing it becomes.

Generally speaking, the natural (Ecocert-certified) preservatives protect best against bacteria rather than yeast and/or molds. Generally, the organic acids (such as sorbic acid which is also Ecocert-certified) protect better against yeast and molds rather than bacteria. Thus, mixing the two types of preservatives can give a reliable system provided that the pH is on the acidic side.

Of course, on a commercial scale, each preservative system must be checked for preservative efficiency by a standardized challenge test. The cost of such tests are in the $500 range and take around 6 to 8 weeks.

One can definitely achieve an efficient natural (according to the Ecocert standard) preservative system. It does, though, take time and money. Without spending the time and money, it is better and safer to stick with a tried and true (though not natural) preservative system.