California steps in on FDA cosmetics legislation

Related tags Personal care products Legislature

Californian legislators are trying to override what they believe to
be lax federal laws relating to cosmetic ingredients legislations,
by lobbying for the introduction of a pair of bills aimed at
stamping out the use of questionable chemicals in product
formulations, writes Simon Pitman.

Senate Bill 484 and Assembly Bill 908 were presented to the Californian legislature this week. Bill 484 aims to ensure the safety of cosmetics and personal care products produced and sold within the state of California, while Assembly Bill 908 prohibits the use of two specific phthalates in personal care products within the state.

Bill 484 aims to stamp out the use of any ingredient which is known to be carcinogenic or to cause birth defects, while the Bill to stamp out the two phthalate compounds - often used in fragrances, hair sprays and nail varnish - focuses on the fact that they have caused health-related concerns, particularly among women of child bearing age.

If the bills were passed, violation would make it a crime under existing laws, making cosmetics companies accountable for any ingredients deemed to be risky.

However, the two bills face strong opposition from cosmetics companies as well as industry bodies, who all claim that the bills could have serious repercussions to the reputation of the industry. One industry body said that the bills 'unfairly question the integrity' of cosmetic and personal care products.

Both industry bodies and representatives of cosmetics companies point out that the ingredients in question contain such a small risk to health that it is virtually negligible. In fact the FDA says that use of the chemicals in cosmetic products gives no reason for concern.

On the other side, critics of current legislation for cosmetic products claim that there is legal loophole, allowing manufacturers to use ingredients that have not been tested for safety. The Californian Bills aim to amend this situation on a state level. However, if the Bills are passed there is likely to be serious repercussions, with Federal laws on cosmetics legislations coming under the spotlight.

Health advocacy representatives are lobbying for support of the bill through the help of Senator Carol Migden and Assembly Member Judy Chu, who have formally introduced the Bills to the State Legislator.

Migden and Chu have drawn attention to European Union laws, which currently ban such ingredients from all cosmetics formulations on account of the risks they pose to human health.

However, speaking to Californian press, Migden was keen to emphasise that the Bills were not tantamount to a ban, pointing out that the legislation seeks the clear labeling of the ingredients and their possible side affects.

Currently in the US cosmetics formulations are not subject to any specific safety regulations, though in recent months the FDA has been cracking down on cosmetics manufacturers claims. Earlier in the year, the FDA wrote a warning letter to Basic Research, questioning the claims the company was making over its anti-wrinkle treatment, StriVectin-SD.

The FDA said that claims made by Basic Research indicated that the product might affect the physical appearance of the body. Currently the FDA defines the term 'drug' as meaning any article or product that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body.

Related topics Formulation & Science

Related news

Show more