Cosmetics regulation under scrutiny in 2010

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care products, Cosmetics, Safe cosmetics

US regulation of cosmetics products has come under scrutiny this year as both consumer groups and the industry have made calls to improve the current system.

Currently, cosmetic products are covered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the application of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and 2010 has seen a number of calls to tighten the control of the regulatory body on the industry.

Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act

In February of this year, the state of Colorado proposed a bill (the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act) that claimed if passed it would prohibit the sale of personal care products containing ingredients that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

The bill claimed that many personal care products include such ingredients, and said it would use lists of harmful chemicals from bodies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the national toxicology program to judge whether an ingredient was safe.

Industry opposed the bill, with the US cosmetics trade association the Personal Care Products Council arguing that it lacked any scientific basis, and it was dismissed in early March.

Shortly following the dismissal of Colorados Safe Personal Care Products Act, the Safe Cosmetics Act was introduced into the House of Representatives in July.

Safe Cosmetics Act

The Safe Cosmetics Act is supported by the consumer group the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which claims that it will overhaul the law that allows chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, or other illnesses in the products we use on our bodies every day.

It calls for cosmetic companies to provide significantly more information to the FDA than is currently required, including details of the ingredients, safety data assessments and full company and product details.

In addition, the bill calls on the FDA to set up a database for cosmetics ingredients classing them into three categories prohibited ingredients, restricted ingredients and ingredients that are safe without limits.

Again the Personal Care Products Council expressed concern over the propose bill saying it was not based on credible science and would place an unrealistic burden on the FDA in its implementation.

In addition, numerous smaller business owners have expressed concern that the burdens on the manufacturer proposed by the bill would put many out of business.

The Story of Cosmetics

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also launched a short video documentary The Story of Cosmetics at a similar time to the introduction of the bill, which claimed to educate consumers about what is in cosmetics products and push for the regulatory changes necessary to get toxic products off our shelves.

The Personal Care Products Council criticised the video, referring to it as a shockumentary, and calling claims that the industry manufactures products that would be toxic to consumers as absurd.

PCPC calls for tighter regulation

Although the trade body has dismissed these two bills, it is by no means opposed to tighter regulation and itself called upon the FDA to increase its involvement in cosmetics this summer.

In July, the Council proposed its own ideas of how cosmetics regulation could be improved with greater involvement from FDA, and urges Congress to consider these proposals as well as speed up the passage of the FDA Globalization Act of 2009, which also stands to enhance FDA regulations of cosmetics manufacturers.

The PCPC suggested that manufacturers systematically submit product ingredient reports to FDA, with lists of all ingredients used in each product, as well as registering all manufacturing facilities.

In addition, the trade association proposed that manufacturers report any serious, unexpected adverse effects experienced by consumers to the regulatory body, as well as altering the way the safety profiles of ingredients are investigated.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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