What Your Customers Do and Don't Want in the Products They Buy


Ever wonder what those pretty labels, badges and claims mean on the products sitting on your shelves? What does cruelty-free really mean? What are parabens and why are they bad? How does Kosher different from Halal?

We’re glad you asked.

Your customers care about the products they purchase – products that reflect their values. To answer lingering questions about these products’ certifications and labels, we’ve come up with an comprehensive list for you and your customers.


Cruelty-free: The Leaping Bunny logo is issued for use by companies which produce cosmetic, personal care and cleaning products which comply with the Humane Cosmetic and Humane Household Product Standards criteria. Internationally, over 600 companies are proud to be Leaping Bunny Certified. Many display the Leaping Bunny logo on their products, allowing shoppers to identify and choose products that are not animal tested or use any animal by-product. The Leaping Bunny remains the most trusted cruelty-free certification for non-animal tested products. This certification encourages investment into scientific alternatives that are more ethical and accurate than animal testing.

Certified Organic: The organic label is meaningful or highly meaningful (depending on the type of food) and verified. It is backed by federal law and regulations that are designed to promote a sustainable system of agriculture. Federal organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides (with only a few exceptions), synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics (for all crops and animals except in chickens prior to day 2 of life), genetically engineered organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge, artificial hormones for growth promotion, animal by-products in animal feed, petroleum-based solvents as processing aids, and synthetic food additives in the final product.

Fair Trade Certified: The Fair Trade Certified™ label ensures consumers that the farmers and workers behind the product got a better deal. It is more than a certification stamp and more than a seal of approval. It reassures consumers that their purchases are socially and environmentally responsible. It is the end result of a rigorous global inspection and monitoring system.

Vegan: The Certified Vegan Logo is a registered trademark, similar in nature to the kosher mark, for products that do not contain animal products or byproducts and that have not been tested on animals. The certified logo is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists. It also helps companies recognize a growing vegan market, as well as bringing the word vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.

Kosher: Kosher refers to a set of intricate biblical laws that detail the types of food that a Jewish person may eat and the ways in which it may be prepared. To be certified Kosher, all ingredients in every product—and the process of preparing the product—must be certified for kosher-compliance too. The kosher certificate confirms that a product is properly vetted and monitored. It also alerts customers to specific restrictions the product might have. Products are endorsed as kosher only when bearing the K symbol on the label.

Halal Certification: The primary reason for Halal is to serve the national and international Muslim communities in meeting their religious compliance. The concept of Halal applies to a wide range of goods and services used in a Muslim’s daily life. Muslim consumers choose products because it is in compliance with the process and procedure as defined by Islamic Law (Sharia). USA Halal Chamber of Commerce, Inc, promotes unified Standards of acceptance and certification. A unified standard bridges the gap between Muslim consumers and the industry. It establishes credibility and assures the Muslim consumer of strict compliance to the Halal process.

Paraben-free: Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products such as soap, moisturizers, shaving cream and underarm deodorant, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Companies use parabens to extend the shelf life of products and prevent growth of bacteria and fungi in products.

ETO-free: Ethylene oxide (EtO) is produced in large volumes and is primarily used as an intermediate in the production of several industrial chemicals, the most notable of which is ethylene glycol. It is also used as a fumigant in certain agricultural products and as a sterilant for medical equipment and supplies. Unfortunately, EtO possesses several physical and health hazards that merit special attention. EtO is both flammable and highly reactive.


Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. GMOs (genetically modified organisms), are novel organisms created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques. Scientists and consumer and environmental groups have cited many health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs.

GMO Project Certified: In order for a product to be Non-GMO Project Verified, its inputs must be evaluated for compliance with the Non-GMO Project standard, which categorizes inputs into three risk levels. The Non-GMO Project Standard considers animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey to be high risk due to the prevalence of GMOs in animal feed. Cloned animals and their progeny are considered to be GMOs under the standard, as are the products of synthetic biology. High-Risk: The input is derived from, contains derivatives of, or is produced through a process involving organisms that are known to be genetically modified and commercially available. Alfalfa, Canola, Corn, Cotton, Papaya, Soy, Sugar beet, Yellow summer squash / zucchini, Animal products, Microbes and enzymes Low-Risk The input is not derived from, does not contain derivatives of, or is not produced through a process involving organisms that are presently known to be genetically modified and commercially available. Lentils, Spinach, Tomatoes, Sesame seeds, Avocados * Non-Risk The input is not derived from biological organisms and not, therefore, susceptible to genetic modification.

Fragrance-free: “Fragrance-free” is a complex mash-up of odiferous ingredients, from both natural and synthetic origins. A fragrance’s ingredient list can sometimes be longer than the ingredient list for an actual product. It isn’t practical to list all of the components of the fragrance—companies aren’t too keen on giving away their secrets either—so the word “fragrance” (or parfum) is the only term required of beauty companies to use on their ingredient labels to represent the fragrance blends.

Gluten-free: Gluten-free certification is a process designed to protect consumers with gluten-related disorders by confirming that a food, drink or supplement meets strict standards for gluten-free safety. It assures consumers that there is third-party oversight confirming the legitimacy of the manufacturer’s gluten-free processes and claims. * Established in 2005, The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), an industry program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), is dedicated to providing certification services to producers of gluten-free products using quality assessment and control measures throughout production, in order to provide assurance to consumers of the safety of their foods.

BPA-free: Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an industrial chemical used to make two common synthetics: Polycarbonate, a clear, rigid, shatter-resistant plastic found in a wide variety of consumer products, including food and drink containers Epoxy resins, used in industrial adhesives and high-performance coatings. Epoxy coating lines most of the 131 billion food and beverage cans made in the U.S. annually

Grass-Fed: The Certified Grassfed by AGW label is highly meaningful and verified. It means that the animals producing meat or dairy were fed a 100% grass and forage based diet, with no grain. Only producers who are also Animal Welfare Approved certified are eligible for the Certified Grassfed by AGW. AGW rates Animal Welfare Approved as a highly meaningful label for animal welfare.

Cage-Free: On an egg carton, “cage free” means that the hens that laid the eggs were not raised in caged housing systems, which is how the vast majority of laying hens in the US are housed. In a caged housing system, each hen is typically given enough space to stand upright, but not enough space to turn around, move around, or stretch her wings. The space given to each bird in a cage is typically less than the size of a sheet of paper. “Cage free” does not mean that the hens had access to the outdoors.

Made with Organic: This label is somewhat meaningful and verified. It means that at least 70% of the ingredients in the product, including those specified, are certified organic. The organic ingredients are produced in accordance with the federal organic standards, which are designed to promote a sustainable system of agriculture with minimal synthetic inputs such as pesticides, antibiotics and more. The remaining 30% of ingredients do not have to be certified organic; federal standards do prohibit the use of genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge for all ingredients.

Other marketing claims:

Natural: The “natural” label is not verified and is not very meaningful. There are no consistent standards to ensure that the label means what it implies to consumers: that the food was produced without chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, genetically engineered crops, chemical processing aids and artificial ingredients. Each company can use its own definition, and definitions vary widely. Government agencies only provide guidance, not regulations, for companies using the “natural” claim.

Toxic-free: The “non-toxic” claim implies that a product, substance, or chemical will not cause adverse health effects, either immediately or over the long-term. However, there are no specific standards or verifications for the “non-toxic” claim. Unfortunately, no organization verifies the use or claim of the words “non-toxic” other than the company manufacturing or marketing a product. While CPSC requires some products to display hazard labeling, it conducts no enforcement of the use of the term “non-toxic.” So products that are labeled “non-toxic” are not always necessarily safe to use.