Government Tyranny Prevents Import
I am not going to name the agency involved in this fiasco in hopes that they don't find this post on Google. But EVERYONE who cares about access to pure essential oil needs to read and think. This post is long and filled with governmentalese... not a light read. But it is terribly important if you love or use the oils.
Suffice it to say that the government agency involved in the correspondence below can make it impossible for ANY of us to import the oils we love. Here is what has happened.
Duerst Lahti Global is the kind of company I love to do business with. Small, family, nice people. Importing Fair Trade products from Africa. Good people. White hats. They primarily import fixed oils and butters, sometimes the occasional essential oil. When possible I like to buy from them. They do good work. Good products, great ethics...what's not to love?
Their website used to give the following description of Rose Geranium Essential oil: Pelargonium graveolens, organic, South Africa. Rosy Scented. I say used to because it is no longer listed. This was the only description. No claims, no properties. Nothing.
In early August they received a letter from the FDA accusing them of importing "a new drug without an approved new drug application." Why? Because SOME WEBSITE, SOMEWHERE (not theirs, not mine, thank goodness!) says "Rose Geranium essential oil ca be supportive in cases of infectious diseases, intestinal parasites, mouth and tooth pain" therefore appearing to make drug claims. Now, it is NOT Duerst Lahti who makes these claims. They say it smells rosy.
My friend Tris replied with the following:
3 August 2013
To: Sherea Dillon
From: J. Tris Lahti
Duerst Lahti Global. LLC
We are in receipt of a letter from your office (please see enclosed) regarding a recent shipment of rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil. You have noted it as an UNAPPROVED NEW DRUG and proceed to quote an unnamed web site for a business. We have no idea where you obtained that information; however, it certainly does not apply to this shipment, to our previous sales of the product or future sales.
Please refer to our web site www.dlgnaturals.com. You will see no claims made whatsoever for rose geranium essential oil. I have no doubt that you will find, and have undoubtedly found, some web sites that claim their products do virtually anything; however, our web site – indeed, our business – has never made such claims nor intends to make such claims.
In addition, we do not sell rose geranium essential oil on a retail basis, where such claims might be made. Our business is primarily wholesale (we do offer some fair trade personal care retail products, which you can find on our web site, and which are manufactured by other companies, and on which you will note no claims that fall outside FDA and FTC rules). You will not find rose geranium on that list.
(NOTE..TRIS's Label...which I can't get to import)
The above label (example only) is the type we use to label our bulk rose geranium. (With each shipment, however, we add a lot number to the label.) In this particular instance, the label indicates “organic,” which we have imported previously. The shipment in question is not certified organic, however, so would not be sold, as such, but rather as “conventional.”
In summary, we have not made any such claims, as noted in your letter. Further, we have no intention of making such claims, as we well recognize that these would fall outside the rules of FDA/FTC. If you believe that rose geranium is a “new drug,” then you will need to ban all shipments of rose geranium into this country, not just ours.
In your response to this letter, we would appreciate knowing why you believe we have such claims, where we have made them, and the web site(s) where reference is made (website states-"Rose Geranium essential oil can be supportive in cases of Infectious diseases, intestinal parasites, mouth and tooth pain.").
I look forward to your response.
J. Tris Lahti
Duerst Lahti Global, LLC
At some point after that, Duerst Lahti was able to take possession of the entire shipment (the Rose Geranium was a very small part of a large shipment.) But they were not able to sell the Rose Geranium, simply hold it until the FDA released it.
Today they received the FDA's response to Tris's letter. The Rose Geranium is an unlabeled drug and must either be returned from whence it came, or destroyed. And if you choose to destroy it, you must do it with the government agency's representative there to witness the destruction. If you choose to return it to the origin, it must be shipped under bond.
Tris sent me copies of all correspondence. The agency did not address any of his questions. They never said where the claims were seen (Google 'em, you'll find them), why the government thinks DL made the claims or where they made them, nor the point that if this shipment is banned then every import of Rose Geranium oil must be banned.
NOW... Other than anger at the injustice done a friend, why am I spending this evening writing a blog when I should be listening to a NAHA webinar? Because the importer made NO claim. The company making the claims does not buy from Duerst Lahti, in fact Tris had never heard from him. And I am sure the quoted company thought he was staying within the rules. BUT, if this shipment could be seized because someone, somewhere made a claim, are any of our oils safe?
Even if you list the oil name, country of origin, size and price, and nothing more, the government has proven that you may be charged with selling an unlisted drug.
And we won't discuss what this foretells for those of us who like to inform people about what these wonderful oils can do.
I don't know what we can do. I don't have the answer. But I hope to have this issue discussed at the AIA conference next week. Because this situation can have terrible consequences for all of us who love the oils.