Safe Cosmetics Act 2011 targets tighter industry regulation

By Pooja Kondhia

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care products Cosmetics

Loopholes within the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act have resulted in a largely unregulated cosmetics industry; the vast majority of approximately 12,500 chemicals in use by the $50 billion cosmetics industry have never been assessed for safety.

As such, congress reps Jan Schakowsky, Ed Markey, and Tammy Baldwin introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (HR 2359) last week, which will update the 1938 law.

Safe cosmetics

Due to growing concern with regards to unsafe chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 will:

  • Require safety assessment of all cosmetics ingredients using a health-based standard that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations.
  • Phase out of cosmetics ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and reproductive or developmental harm.
  • Require registration of cosmetic manufacturing, packaging and distributing facilities. Micro businesses with annual revenue under $2 million are exempt from registration
  • Close labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and websites including salon products and the constituent ingredients in fragrances.
  • Give workers access to information about hazardous chemicals in personal care products used in professional salons.
  • Require data-sharing to avoid duplicative testing, encourage transparency and reduce the need for animal testing. Validated alternatives to animal testing will also be encouraged.
  • Give the FDA recall authority and require notification of adverse health effects to the FDA.
  • Provide adequate funding and support to the FDA office of cosmetics and colors so it can provide effective oversight to the cosmetics industry.
  • Establish a pro-rated registration fee to generate the resources needed to administer the Act, while exempting small businesses with annual revenue under $10 million.
  • Direct the FDA to provide technical support to small businesses to help them carry out the requirements of the Act.
  • Protect stronger state and local laws.

Serious health problems

“The growing number of reports of serious health problems arising from the use of dangerous chemicals in personal care products shows a need to update our laws and protect men, women and children from harmful exposure,”​ stated rep. Schakowsky.

Furthermore, the law governing this enormous industry only takes up two and a half pages of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act; thus companies are legally allowed to use any ingredient they wish without conducting a pre-market safety assessment.

Therefore, cosmetics sold in the US contain ingredients with known health hazards like lead, mercury, hydroquinone, coal tar, formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, acrylamide, phthalates, and even placenta.

Rep. Schakowsky elaborates further, “Currently manufacturers are not required to disclose all their ingredients on labels and the FDA has no power to supervise the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetics.”

Instead, the safety of ingredients in personal care products seems to have been handed over to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR). Apparently an industry-funded and self-policing body, it has evaluated less than 20 percent of the ingredients used in cosmetics in 35 years, since its creation.

Related topics Regulation & Safety

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