WARREN – The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed Thursday that it is investigating two new complaints since a December complaint was resolved against Ava Anderson Non Toxic, now operating as Pure Haven Essentials.
Sam Jones-Ellard, a public affairs specialist at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, said it had received one complaint against Ava Anderson Non Toxic and one against the new company, Pure Haven Essentials, but would not provide any details, saying both complaints are under investigation and being reviewed.
“As long as there’s an open complaint we can’t comment until that is closed and finalized,” said Jones-Ellard.
Reached by email, a spokesperson for Pure Haven Essentials declined comment on the new allegations on behalf of new interim President Jim Brady, but did comment on the 2015 complaint.
Brady, a direct-selling expert, was named March 11 as interim president of Pure Haven Essentials.
“Jim has a depth and breadth of management experience, nationally and globally, including senior executive roles at Avon and PartyLite. He will oversee the operation of the company during a transition period while the company continues the search for a new president/CEO and continues the process to identify new appropriate ownership for the company,” said COO Bob Manny.
In a Dec. 11, 2015, letter with the name of the complainant redacted, USDA official Vella Kay Holmes notified the director of the compliance and enforcement division of the USDA’s National Organic Program that Ava Anderson Non Toxic, which allegedly had been marketing its Essential Oil product as organic in violation of USDA rules, took corrective action and “modified its labels” to comply with the law.
Jones-Ellard would not say what specific rules were being violated. But according to a USDA database, “only certified operations can sell, label or represent products as organic, unless exempt or excluded from certification.”
The database does not list either company as certified, but Jones-Ellard pointed out that companies may be absent from the listing for a variety of reasons, including being new to certification. When asked whether the companies are certified to sell organic products, neither the USDA nor the company spokesperson would comment.
According to the spokesperson for Pure Haven Essentials, the company, which was then Ava Anderson Non Toxic, “promptly contracted a USDA Certification consultant in December of 2015. He came to the home office in early January to educate us on language and labeling compliance.
“In accordance with USDA regulations,” the spokesperson wrote, “we then revised each of our Essential Oil labels to say organic ONLY in the ingredients listing on the label. We are able to say this in the ingredient listing because each of our Essential Oils has been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers … and we have certification verifying each.”
Pure Haven Essentials launched to replace Ava Anderson Non Toxic in early March, after the Anderson family removed themselves from business operations citing attacks against company founder Ava Anderson and her products.
According to the R.I. Secretary of State’s Office, Ava Anderson’s mother, Kimberley S. Anderson, is a manager of the new company, which is located at 99 Main St. in Warren.