Would you be pleased if the product you were about to purchase (like baby food or lipstick) was tested at an EPA-certified laboratory for heavy metals and pesticides and those results were available online? This would give you more actionable information to make those safe purchases for your family, right? Well, now this is possible. Mamavation is very excited about the launch of a new certification for food, clothing, and personal care products called CleanScan. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like the safest oat milk tested for glyphosate and heavy metals, the safest cookware sans PFAS “forever chemicals,” the safest baking sheets, & best water purifiers, now join us to cover the details behind the latest food & personal care certification bringing more accountability to light — CleanScan.
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Detox Project Launches CleanScan to Bring Real Accountability to Consumers
CleanScan is brought to you by The Detox Project, makers of the Glyphosate Residue Free certification. Just as the Glyphosate Residue Free certification disrupted food certifications by bringing labs to the forefront, CleanScan is going to do that in a much more profound way. CleanScan is the first ever QR Code based certification that enables brands to easily show consumers which contaminants they test for in a totally transparent way. CleanScan will transform how brands and consumers interact with each other in terms of how much is disclosed about chemicals or toxic contaminants and how frequently that information is updated.
When a brand is verified by CleanScan, consumers are able to scan a QR Code on the packaging to see the following on their CleanScan Page:
- A simple dashboard so you can quickly and easily see what the brand’s products have been tested for,
- Pesticide lab results,
- Heavy metal lab results, and
- Information on the supply chain of the product like where the farms are located that produced the main ingredients.
The initial contaminants included in CleanScan certification are Pesticides and Heavy Metals, with more to follow soon. Upon certification, brands are issued with a CleanScan QR Code, which can be used on packaging, website, or marketing material.
How CleanScan Will Benefit Consumers & Brands
- Allows consumers to find actionable information about pesticides and heavy metals from what testing the brand has participated in.
- Includes third-party certifications inside CleanScan QR codes to showcase multiple certifications without needing the extra real estate on packaging
- Uses Certification of compliance through Chainparency, a blockchain-based data solution provider on the GoChain blockchain. This traces ingredients down to the farm level.
What Types of Ingredients will CleanScan certify?
It’s important to understand that CleanScan is doing more than just certifying consumer-facing brands. They are also serving single ingredient suppliers who are providing those ingredients to the consumer-facing brands.
- Single Ingredients from Suppliers
- Single-Ingredient Food, Supplement, Personal Care and Clothing Products (products sold to consumers)
- Multi-Ingredient Food, Supplement, Personal Care and Clothing Products (products sold to consumers)
Most Food & Personal Care Certifications Rely on Paperwork, Not Independent Labs of Final Product
The amount of certifications available for food and personal care products is simply a reflection of how one certification does not cover all the complex issues modern consumers are demanding from brands. Certifications range from how crops are farmed (like USDA organic) to how workers are treated, how “clean” ingredients are for various contaminants, and so on.
Most of these certifications do not require brands to independently test the final product for contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides. Most of the time, testing can be done of the raw materials by people along the supply chain, not the final product. This system is odd because the people doing the testing stand to benefit financially from the sale as well. So it’s not a perfect system. There are some nuances there, but we will attempt to break this down for you so you have a better understanding of the certification list.
Most certifying agencies are private, except for USDA Organic, which is a standard set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and then privately audited and accredited by third-party companies. There are so many certifications because there are so many needs by the consumer that are left unmet. No one certification will please everyone.
Food & Beverages Certifications
- USDA Organic: USDA Organic is an important starting point for safer food. This is a standard that is set by the USDA, and then privately audited & certified. It omits toxic persistent pesticides, artificial flavors & preservatives, antibiotics, & hormones. Private companies audit and certify farms and factories and the rest of the global supply chain in order to qualify for the USDA organic seal of approval. In the United States certifying agencies like Oregon Tilth or Quality Assurance International (QAI) are visiting farms and auditing specific farming practices through a complicated paper trail audit and site visit. Something very similar happens to factories when they are audited on location. However, the USDA standards do not mandate testing of the soil for specific heavy metals or pesticide residue. This lack of testing has been criticized for some time. However, eating USDA-certified organic food lowers the amounts of pesticide residue found inside your body according to a recent peer-reviewed study. So even with the issues from lack of testing, overall, USDA Organic is a very good choice.
- Non-GMO Project: This organization certifies that food ingredients were not farmed through the use of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) and seeds. It also ensures that animals were not fed feed made of genetically modified seeds, like GMO alfalfa, corn, or soy. This certification is not based on a test, but on careful auditing of paperwork, tracing ingredients back to farms and seeds used. This certification will likely cut down on GMOs in your food, but it does not mandate testing of toxic, synthetic pesticides or heavy metals.
- Glyphosate Residue Free from The Detox Project: Mandates testing of glyphosate from an EPA-certified lab of the final product in order to determine eligibility. The product must be sent to an EPA-certified lab and tested to have below 10 ppb of glyphosate or AMPA combined to be eligible for the certification.
- American Grassfed Association (AGA): It’s important to understand that most “grass-fed” meat you find at the grocery store is not necessarily 100% grass-fed and that term has no real meaning according to the law. In fact, to be considered “grass-fed” by the USDA all you need to do is say you consider yourself “grass-fed.” Sadly, that’s it. If you are looking for 100% grass-fed meat produced in the United States, either know the farming practices of the farmer local to you OR look for AGA-certified meats. This certification is only open to producers of ruminants like cattle, goats, sheep, and bison. It mandates that animals are fed primarily on the grass in open spaces. To find a local American ranch selling AGA-certified beef, goat, sheep, or bison, go here.
- Fair Trade International: This certification is focused on making trade fair. Fairtrade is a simple way to make a difference in the lives of small-scale farmers and workers who are marginalized by the global trade system. Each brand must then align with special social, economic, and environmental standards and seek long-term partnerships.
- Fair Trade Certified: According to Sustainable Jungle, there is some controversy over this certification. Fair Trade Certified split from Fair Trade International to accommodate more large-scale farming operations that would not qualify for Fair Trade International certification.
- Clean Label Project: Mandates testing from an EPA-certified lab for several contaminants, but it’s unclear from our perspective if ALL testing in their methodology is mandated as part of the certification. We reached out to Clean Label Project to answer our questions and did not hear back. So we then started to study their methodology, chemicals tested for, and the minimum detection limits of the testing such as the pesticide panel, phthalates panel, and paraben panel. We found those detection limits a bit too high for our comfort level to pass as “clean.” Not all of them are the lowest possible detection limit for the chemical they are looking for.
- Gluten-Free: This certification is very important for people with celiac disease or allergies preventing them from being able to consume wheat. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) and is a 501c3 non-profit organization that empowers the gluten-free community through consumer support, advocacy, and education.
- Kosher: “Kosher” is a term used to describe food that complies with the strict dietary standards of traditional Jewish law but is also certified to comply with those standards by a Rabbi. There are three categories of kosher food: (1) Meat (fleishig), (2) Dairy (milchig), & (3) Pareve: any food that is not meat or dairy. Each food group has specific rules that govern how it is to be prepared and served.
- Regenerative Organic Certified: This certification starts with a USDA organic certification as a basis and adds additional requirements to rehabilitate soil and protect animal welfare. This certification is a response from the USDA organic certification allowing large monoculture farms within the standard. This standard focuses on having a smaller carbon footprint by sequestering carbon as part of their farming practices.
Personal Care & Other Consumer Products
- MADE SAFE: Made Safe certification primarily focuses on personal care and other types of consumer products like mattresses & cleaning products, but not food. Made Safe has a database of over 6,500 banned and restricted chemicals that it vets the ingredients of products against. Amy Ziff, Founder, explains “requiring companies to provide documentation to substantiate the composition of every ingredient and compliance with substance-specific requirements, and requiring testing where necessary, MADE SAFE does due diligence to screen all reported substances within a product to verify that they meet our standards.” Amy clarified by stating that testing is not typically required for certification but could be if the ingredient is known to be high in heavy metals, benzene, or is an ingredient that is most of the time made from nanomaterials because nano is not allowed. However, Made Safe declined to provide an example of a product that also has been tested in the lab. It seems as if most of the time, this is an audit of raw materials used in each product. However, Made Safe is a bit stricter than EWG Verified in terms of chemicals allowed within the certification.
- EWG Verified: The Environmental Working Group created a certification for personal care, cleaning products, and baby and diaper products. These products have their ingredients reviewed and cannot contain any ingredients on EWG’s “Unacceptable” list, meaning ingredients with health, ecotoxicity, and/or contamination concerns. This certification also mandates all fragrance chemicals are disclosed to the public. However, this certification typically does not require testing of the final product for the contaminants they are trying to avoid either and its not as strict as Made Safe.
CleanScan Starts with Labs & Ends With a Cleaner Supply Chain
There are so many additional reasons why we are excited about this new certification. But after reviewing the other major certifictions available, it’s clear that it’s time has come.
CleanScan & Other Detox Project Certifications Always Require Lab Testing
One of the things I love the most about the Detox Project and all their certifications is they always start with lab testing at the lowest possible detection limit acceptable. In other words, instead of accepting glyphosate at 100 ppb, like the Clean Label Project, glyphosate is detectable at 10 ppb, which is the lowest level that you can accurately detect in the lab. As you can see from what we went over above, this is uncommon and much needed. No other certification is doing this at the lowest detectionable level or at all.
CleanScan is Consumer Facing, But Will Also Work with Suppliers of Raw Ingredient
Because the Detox Project works with suppliers of raw ingredients like honey, oats, and pea protein, they are also able to help take more credit for cleaning up the supply chain. Not only do they assist consumer-facing brands, but they are also involved in helping suppliers provide the cleanest raw ingredients to those same brands. So you may already be eating an ingredient that has been evaluated by the Detox Project within a consumer-facing brand.
CleanScan Organizes Other Certifications For The Food Industry
The number of certifications available is vast, but CleanScan has the ability to help brands organize all these certifications and showcase them to the consumer in an organized fashion all within the QR code. The CleanScan Page that is available after the QR code is scanned can contain ALL the certifications the brand has and details on each one as well as information on what farm the ingredients come from by using their Chainparency program, which is a blockchain-based data solution.
How You Can Help Create a Cleaner Supply Chain with CleanScan — How to Get This Started
If you would like to see your favorite food, personal care product, cleaning product, or other type of consumer product with this certification from CleanScan, simply send them this post. Right now, CleanScan is brand new and most brands are not aware of it. If you would like to help this get started quicker with your favorite brand, make sure they understand how you feel this certification will benefit them and your family at the same time. Help us share this post and get this going faster!