September 24, 2015 by
Samantha Gendler, Senior Editor
By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
The VRG received an email from a reader Linda who wrote:
Hello. I’ve noticed urea can be in things like dish soap. Is this a vegan ingredient? I’ve read it was originally discovered in urine, but that it is also made synthetically and the name just stayed.
We responded by saying “In all cases which we’re aware, urea in household products is produced synthetically today from ammonia and carbon dioxide, both non-animal-derived.”
Interested readers may learn more about ingredients including urea (p. 2 second column) used in dish detergent here: http://www.colgate.com.au/Colgate/AU/Corp/ConsumerInfo/PDF/HomeCare_DishwashingLiquids.pdf
For more general information about urea’s industrial uses today: https://www.thechemco.com/chemical/urea/
The VRG followed up with Linda by asking if she had read “urea” on a label of any products she uses. She replied:
Sun Products; I heard Sun detergent was vegan. I think their dish soap might be good, but you can confirm too. I also heard Method is vegan.
The VRG called Sun products and spoke with representative Fran in September 2015. When we asked about urea she wanted a specific product name to look up. Our question was generally about all Sun products. Fran replied:
Urea is chemically synthesized; not derived from animals. It is used as a moisturizing agent.
An Internet search located a Sun detergent ingredient label which listed urea as an ingredient. When we noticed it was out of stock on the vendor’s website, we took the SKU/UPC code and went to the Sun Products Corporation website and entered it on a page where ingredient disclosures could be accessed.
No product with that code resulted although many similar ones did. Checking through a representative sample of Sun product ingredients in this way, no listings included urea.
The tool is user-friendly in accessing complete ingredient information. The function of the ingredient in the product is also stated. Interested consumers should select “Ingredient Disclosure” in the field labeled “Document Type.” Entering either the SKU/UPC code, product type or product name should be sufficient to see ingredient lists.
The Method Products, PBC (public-benefit corporation) website contains a list of ingredients used in its products. There is also information on the ingredients’ functions in products and environmental and health summaries. Some ingredients are accompanied by source information. Urea is not present on the list.
To confirm whether urea is in any Method product we sent the company an email from their site contact form. We received this reply from Brian:
All Method products are suitable for vegans…Only our Nourishing Hand Wash contains urea, which is synthetic.
From Method’s FAQ page:
Q: Does Method contain any animal byproducts?
A: No, all method products are vegan and cruelty-free.
The VRG also asked Method about the lipase entry in their ingredient list. Lipase in dairy cheese is often animal-derived and we wondered if this were true in household products. We received this reply:
All Method products…do not contain any animal byproducts, including the lipase ingredient in our Laundry 8x.
When we looked at the ingredients listed for Laundry 8x we didn’t see lipase among them. We followed up with Method and received this reply:
When we initially launched the Laundry 8x, only a small batch of it had lipase in it. We have long ago reformulated the Laundry 8x and it no longer contains it. Only Laundry 8x detergent containers that list it on the label have it. I apologize for the confusion.
Method provides a list of definitions for words commonly used on its site such as “naturally derived” or “natural” in a Green Glossary:
There is some ingredient source information included as well.
Method’s Greenskeeping Toolkit provides even more ingredient information.
NOTE: While researching urea The VRG read on several websites such as http://www.premarin.org/# that there is a urine-derived pharmaceutical product on the market. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals®, a subsidiary of Pfizer® sells Premarin® an equine estrogen intended for human use. It is derived from the urine of pregnant mares.
We spoke with Steve a pharmacist at Pfizer who confirmed this. He stated that their product is “purified from urine.” We asked about its efficacy compared to widely available synthetic estrogens and Steve informed us that to his knowledge Premarin has only been tested against placebos and not tested against synthetic estrogens.
The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.
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