Actually the statement is nonsense and very misleading. No product can be "100% Chemical Free".
The Royal Society of Chemistry reclaimed the word "Chemical" from the advertising and marketing industries.
They determined that "Chemical" has been misappropriated and maligned as synonymous with "poison".
The truth, as any right-minded person will say, is that everything we eat, drink, drive, play with and live in is made of chemicals - both natural and synthetic chemicals are essential for life as we know it.
In 2008 the RSC offered a £1 million pound bounty to anyone that could deliver to them any material that could be consider 100% chemical free.
If the public believes materials can be "100% chemical free", the RSC will soon be inundated with examples from people wishing to claim the £1 million pound bounty.
To this day the bounty remains unclaimed.
There are laws that require truth-in-advertising and many of them should be directly applicable to “chemical free” cases. The Federal Trade Commission has explained its policy for how it judges whether or not it will act on potentially deceptive ads as follows:
Certain elements undergird all deception cases. First, there must be a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer. Practices that have been found misleading or deceptive in specific cases include false oral or written representations, misleading price claims, sales of hazardous or systematically defective products or services without adequate disclosures, failure to disclose information regarding pyramid sales, use of bait and switch techniques, failure to perform promised services and failure to meet warranty obligations.
Second, we examine the practice from the perspective of a consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances. If the representation or practice affects or is directed primarily to a particular group, the Commission examines reasonableness from the perspective of that group.
Third, the representation, omission, or practice must be a “material” one. The basic question is whether the act or practice is likely to affect the consumer’s conduct or decision with regard to a product or service. If so, the practice is material and consumer injury is likely, because consumers are likely to have chosen differently but for the deception. In many instances, materiality and hence injury, can be presumed from the nature of the practice. In other instances, evidence of materiality may be necessary.
Thus, the Commission will find deception if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer’s detriment.
So, there are three major criteria for an ad to meet: (i) it must be deceptive, (ii) it must have an impact on a “reasonable” consumer and (iii) it must induce a material change in behaviour on the part of a consumer. Any product which advertises itself as “chemical free” easily meets these three criteria.
Therefore, when advertising and marketing "100% Chemical Free" decaf you are at risk of a legal action that could cost you not only your time and money but also your reputation. It's just a matter of time before it happens.
This is a grey zone in the Organic industry. To maintain the Organic certification a decaffeinator must demonstrate that his process will not change the Organic coffee in any way. Unfortunately, once the Organic certifier has completed his inspection the processor may change the production practices and cross contamination can take place.
The only way to be sure that Organic decaf remains Organic after processing is to purchase from a company with a dedicated production line for that purpose.
In 2015, a situation as described above was uncovered by an Organic Certifying Body and the case is now in the hands of the courts. It's just a matter of time before other cases come to light and the never ending litigation begins.