Industry and academia respond to Which? nanotech report

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Royal society Beauty industry Nanotechnology

Which? has attracted both criticism and praise for its report on nanotechnology in cosmetics.

In “Small Wonder: Nanotechnology in Cosmetics”, Which? magazine expressed concerns about the safety of the technology and accused the beauty industry of not coming clean with consumers.

The consumer watchdog said companies were reluctant to reveal the use of nanotechnology on labels and in advertising.

“The cosmetics industry needs to stop burying its head in the sand and come clean about how it is using nanotechnology,”​ said the chief policy advisor at Which? Sue Davis.

Trade body emphasizes regulatory openness

The UK-based cosmetics trade body the CTPA criticized these comments saying that the industry was being open and transparent.

A spokesperson for the CTPA told “It is not in the interests of the beauty industry to pull one over on the consumer. To protect the future of the technology companies are working closely and transparently with regulatory bodies to ensure consumer safety.”

However Which?, rather then focusing on dealings with regulators, was more concerned that the industry was not being open enough with consumers about nanotechnology.

The watchdog said only 17 out of the 67 beauty companies that it had approached about nanotechnology agreed to take part in its survey. Which? said their unwillingness to share information about nanotechnology with the public was contributing to widespread ignorance about its use.

In a 977 person survey in the UK last month Which? found that 87 per cent of respondents were unaware that nanomaterials are already used in cosmetic products.

Royal Society supports Which?

Independent academic organisation, Royal Society, came out in support of these comments.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Chair of the Royal Society working group on nanotechnologies, said: “Royal Society has been calling, for the last four years, for companies to make public the safety testing methods they have been using on their nanoproducts.

“We are disappointed at continuing lack of transparency in this area.”

In response to these criticisms the spokesperson form the CTPA said cosmetic companies have no obligation to share information about proprietary technologies with consumer bodies.

With reference to the Which? survey she said the watchdog was asking for in-depth information that would have represented an excessive burden on time and resources for the small and medium sized firms that were approached.

Related topics Formulation & Science

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