Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cosmetics Biz as the Wild West of Consumer Safety

--trends + business + politics--

The beauty myth pushed by marketers on consumers might be more dangerous than simply impacting women's self esteem - it might literally be toxic. Last week the Environmental Working Group (EWG) told the House subcommittee something that they probably already knew - that the U.S. cosmetics industry is virtually unregulated and serves as a route for exposure to dozens of toxic chemicals to millions. Jane Houlihan, EWG Vice President of Research testified at a hearing on proposed legislation that would strengthen U.S. cosmetics laws for the first time in decades.

“Cosmetics are essentially unregulated under federal law,” EWG Vice-President for Research Jane Houlihan testified before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act provides the Food and Drug Administration with virtually no power to perform even the most rudimentary functions needed to ensure the safety of an estimated $35 billion of personal care products purchased by consumers annually.”

The current structure of reporting by the cosmetics industry is voluntary and is inadequate for assuring public safety. Under the existent system, the FDA cannot perform many necessary functions, including;

  • Require companies to test cosmetic products for safety before marketing.
  • Regulate cosmetic products until after they are released to the marketplace.
  • Require product recalls; but must go to court to remove misbranded and adulterated products from the market
  • .Require manufacturers to register their cosmetic establishments, file data on ingredients, or report cosmetic-related injuries.

The proposed legislation would require cosmetics companies to register their facilities, products and ingredients with FDA; requiring cosmetic manufacturers to report serious adverse effects to FDA; and requiring good manufacturing practices. In the meantime, going au-natural might be the safest route...if for some, not the most glamorous.

For more information on what's in your personal care products, go to SKIN DEEP - the EWG's guide to the ingredients in over 29,000 product.

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