Garden product labels misleading

24th January 2011 - Fine Cut

Garden product manufacturers have been criticised for making "misleading" environmental claims on product labels and packaging.

Which? Gardening and Garden Organic are calling on the industry to work alongside them to "develop a code of practice to give consumers confidence about the environmentally conscious choices they make."

Dr Margi Lennartsson from Garden Organic and publishing editor Pauline Pears, along with 3,823 Which? Connect members surveyed 14 products, which went unnamed.

More than half of those surveyed were unsure what the terms "natural" and "organic" meant in the context of a gardening product and a quarter of those surveyed also believed the words were interchangeable.

Claims on labels such as "100 per cent chemical free"; "100 per cent natural active ingredient"; "environmentally friendly"; "organic choice" and "suitable for organic faming" could be misleading. According to the bodies, the most concerning phrase was 'environmentally friendly,' under the Government's Green Claims Code, which is currently being revised, use of the term should be avoided.

Dr Lennartsson told Horticulture Week: "What we don't want is gardeners misled into thinking that these products are acceptable for everyday use. This is why we want to help develop a code so that consumers can make informed choices." Which? suggested that consumers with concerns about misleading claims on packaging contact Trading Standards.

The Horticultural Trade Association business development director Tim Briercliffe added: "The HTA is committed to strong environmental credentials for the gardening industry. We would point out that the Chemicals Regulations Directorate is the Government body that is responsible for the safe use of all pesticides and herbicides and to protect human health and the environment."

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