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EWG calls for pressure on ‘outdated’ cosmetics laws

By Simon Pitman+

12-Dec-2016
Last updated on 12-Dec-2016 at 18:54 GMT2016-12-12T18:54:44Z

EWG calls for pressure on ‘outdated’ cosmetics laws

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made a renewed call to update laws governing cosmetics products, claiming the FDA still has little authority to review the safety of chemicals in products, which proposed legislation could change.

The pressure comes ahead of the inauguration of the new President at the end of January and an anticipated swing in the balance of power in Congress, but despite the timing the EWG’s efforts to change the laws will undoubtedly come under criticism from industry bodies and experts who believe that sector is already well regulated for safety, while lobby groups are also working to fight the proposed legislation.

In an authored statement, Scott Faber, who is vice president of Government Affairs at the EWG, pointed to some of the measures the organisation has taken in its attempt to raise awareness about what is deemed to be shortcomings in safety procedures for cosmetics sold in the US.

"Severely outdated cosmetics laws"

“Until Congress updates the nation's severely outdated cosmetics laws, Americans will continue to be exposed to toxic and potentially harmful chemicals through their personal care products,” Faber wrote.

“Fortunately, bipartisan bills in the House and Senate would finally give the FDA the power to review risky chemicals in our personal care products.”

The EWG is supporting  proposed legislation by Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Leonard Lance, R-N.J., and by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine that would require the FDA to assess five potentially toxic or harmful chemicals used in cosmetic and personal care formulation every year.

In turn, the EWG says that once this legislation is passed it will finally give the FDA the ability to implement safety testing, with the first five chemicals already proposed, when and if the bills are passed.

Legislation has the back of the big multinationals

In the authored statement, Faber goes on to highlight how the legislation already has the backing of big multinational cosmetic players such as Revlon, L’Oreal, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson.

However, he also points out that some Washington lobbyists claiming to support the industry are fighting the reforms.

“These lobbyists are pushing legislation that would actually make cosmetics less safe,” Faber writes.

 “Their proposal would not require cosmetics companies to ensure the safety of products and would even weaken FDA oversight of some personal care products that are now regulated as over-the-counter drugs.”

And in response to the criticism aimed by such lobbyists that these measure would be particularly damaging to smaller cosmetics businesses, Faber points out that the proposals made in the bills do not apply to companies that make less than $100,000 annually in sales, whereas companies with revenues of less than $500,000 will not pay the associated fees to expand the FDA oversight.

Congress is due to reconvene on January 3rd 2017, when the passage of these bills will be closely followed. 

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