Simon Duffy: The products created in The Apprentice could have been dangerous

Simon Duffy, co-founder of men’s natural grooming products company Bulldog, sheds a frightening expert light on the dark truth behind last night’s task

"The more I think about last night's show, the more it annoys me. Because the teams created natural bodycare products so quickly. It felt like a con.

There was no safety testing on the seaweed or the honey. Yes, seaweed was an interesting ingredient, but it could have been contaminated. They just pulled it out the sea!

It’s not something we could’ve done in the real world. We’ve got to be constantly vigilant when we’re testing a product, testing for sensitivity, impurities, quality control – making sure we’re not going to hurt anyone.

There’s this whole impression that the natural products industry is all just smoke and mirrors, and Sir Alan even suggested that, but in terms of the processing and the time and the testing, it’s much, much more complicated than that. It’s actually about finding really great natural ingredients and safety testing them vigorously.

They massively condensed that process for the show, and that can be dangerous. The whole task raises questions about safety testing.

It hurt the natural products industry

Also, the teams just used an existing recipe and wafted in their “magic ingredient”. It’s greenwashing – making something sound natural, when in fact you’re just adding a bit of one single natural product to an otherwise synthetic recipe.

That’s a very different and more misleading process than we at Bulldog or someone like Burt’s Bees are doing – which is creating really natural products, that are 98% naturally derived with only a tiny amount of synthetic that’s only there to give it shelf life.

The task was an example of everything that’s wrong with the natural product industry. The industry is striving for credibility as it is, and this impression that you can just pick out seaweed from the sea or grab a bit of honey comb and make a product out of it in a day is really not what the industry needs. It was really unhelpful.

The task raised ethical dilemmas

One thing I really want to point out is that sandalwood, which got a lot of airtime in that show, we should actually all try to avoid. It’s heavily linked to deforestation in Asia, particularly in Indonesia and India.

In those two countries the harvesting of sandalwood is causing really horrible mass deforestation, potential extinction and causes a huge amount of crime associate with theft and smuggling.

Sandalwood is having a really negative impact on the environment, and it’s really hard to get in a sustainable way.  We would urge consumers to think long and hard before ever buying it."
 

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