Local whistleblower Jess Brandt is continuing to battle against consumer misinformation in the week following breaking news of mislabeled Ava Anderson Non Toxic products.
Brandt discovered, following lab testing, that the Ava Anderson dish soap had been grossly mislabeled. As reported in the Independent-Scout last week, testing from a leading soap scientist revealed the dish soap contained none of the ingredients stated on the label, aside from water. In fact, the expert stated that the dish soap, contains no soap at all.
After the news broke on Brandt’s blog (ecofriendlymamausa.com) on Friday Jan. 18, the company promptly stopped sales on Monday, Jan. 21. This was coupled with a message from the Anderson family, citing cyber bulling as a reason for their closure and later blaming manufacturing issues.
The company also noted online that they would rebrand their products and have them available under a new name within weeks. Meanwhile, no refunds or exchanges would be offered.
In a later interview with an East Bay Rhode Island newspaper, the family noted that they were simply “walking away, not selling, the business.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, two days after the abrupt closure, Ava Anderson Non Toxic released the news that they had their products tested by a “highly reputable independent third party laboratory,” which they said included a test of “74 specific chemicals of concern” and that their products contained none of those tested. The company has not released this list of chemicals nor the name of the lab, which tested for them. However, the company did state that they “passed with flying colors.”
Not surprisingly, the company’s claim is viewed with skepticism by many following the story, including Brandt.
“It seems a little fishy, you always should cite your sources,” Brandt pointed out.
The emails continue to pour into Brandt from people who have read her blog post regarding the mislabeling and have used products from Ava Anderson Non Toxic. Many are making a connection to their negative health reactions after using these products.
“People are saying, this is the only thing that has changed, and they’re having serious reactions (to using the products),” Brandt said. “This is far worse than I could have imagined for people. I just want the truth to get out to people so badly.”
With the anonymous lab testing of the unknown chemicals noted, Ava Anderson Non Toxic has reopened their website for sales. The products, which were acknowledged to be mislabeled, are now relabeled or not being “brought in house for production” and sold at 20 percent off as is. There are no refunds offered, if the consumer changes their mind.
The dish soap which was the product to get the ball rolling on this entire case with Brandt, is still offered in the regular shopping selection, with slight reformulation that includes “Organic soapwort root extract” instead of “Organic sea kelp extract.”
The company has admitted to 19 different products that have been either mislabeled, or contained synthetic fragrances, but they are not clearly labeled on their website nor easily found through a Google search.
Brandt has shared the list of the 19 mislabeled products acknowledged by Ava Anderson on her social media pages.
However, this label changing is unclear to new consumers, who are not up to date on the situation, and to those, who have previously bought the products, but had no idea of the previous contents left off the label.
This news continues to unsettle Brandt, who believes that it is further putting people at risk for exposure to the harmful chemicals.
“I think there should be a general recall, there are people who gave Ava scents as a gift and have no idea of the situation. It is not nationwide news, yet, and many people have absolutely no idea,” Brandt explained.
There’s also been a fair amount of mudslinging directed at Jess Brandt this week after her reports were published.
“Here I am getting accused of being a bully, but bullies are commenting on things telling me to ‘get a life’,” Brandt noted. “I feel like if people have been bullying Ava over the years, what has she been doing to have this happen? For me, this has never been about Ava, the person. It’s about the ingredients. Who are the real victims? Not the company making millions, it’s the people using the products and not knowing that they’re putting harmful chemicals on their bodies. ”
Brandt continues to note that she is brushing off the negative comments, and is finding support throughout her hometown and Internet communities.
“Many people I run into around town are so amazed and proud of what I am doing, and I have a big following of people on my blog and social media who have read my stuff for years and really trust me,” Brandt said. “I know what I’m doing is right and people should be outraged because this is wrong. I am a mom, and a consumer who is just hoping for consumer protection. This isn’t my job. I am not making a dime, this is a passion. I am working on this during my kids’ nap time and staying up after they go to bed just to get it out there because it’s all about consumer protection.”
Brandt’s next step in this process is encouraging those who are concerned about this issue to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately 1-202-326-2222 and file a complaint. You do not have had used the products to call and report these products. The address for Ava Anderson Non Toxic is 99 Main Street Warren, Rhode Island 02885.
“Let them know the company is selling products that were improperly labeled and that (they) have deemed the products safe for sale based on their own tests, but are not sharing the results of the tests they did, what they tested for and what they didn’t nor who did those tests. I feel there should be a total recall of any old formulation product. Please, and thank you! It’s really important. Someone needs to step in to sort out this scandal,” Brandt posted on her blog Monday morning.
Brandt is still awaiting the results of her third party testing through a Canadian lab for non-labeled synthetic fragrances used in Ava Anderson Non Toxic products.
“I just want to get the results out there and see what happens,” Brandt said. “When they come out, I will be fully transparent with what I find.”
At the time of publication, the results have not been returned to Brandt.
“This has just been so complicated, and widespread, it just needs to stop,” Brandt said. “People need to know the truth. But it’s still fresh and unraveling, so I am sure in a few months we’ll be able to look back and have a better idea of the situation.”
Those interested in staying current on the issue can check Brandt’s blog ecofriendlymamausa.com