PCPC ex-chief sounds off on Safe Cosmetics Act

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Safe cosmetics act, Cosmetics

John Bailey, former chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, shares his thoughts on the current status of cosmetics law in the US and the Safe Cosmetics Act, pointing out some of the legislation's shortfalls.

"Very little is positive about the Safe Cosmetics Act, especially in view of the fact that cosmetic products in the United States have traditionally been and remain a low risk category and have an excellent safety record,"​ Bailey said before his July 29 retirement in an exclusive interview with CosmeticsDesign.com USA.

The aim of the proposed new legislation is to replace the existing framework, which was first introduced in 1938 and is governed by the FDA. Although Bailey underlines the PCPC's position that there are clear benefits to updating the existing legislation, there are concerns that the proposed legislation will prove difficult to administer and will not make products any safer than they are now.

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John Bailey, ex-chief scientist, Personal Care Products Council

"The PCPC acknowledges that the current U.S. legal framework needs to be modernized,"​ said Bailey. "The current legislation has been in place since the 1930s when the United States became the first country in the world to enact legislation for cosmetics."

"The main area of concern for the industry is that the Safe Cosmetics Act as introduced is unnecessary and represents significant additional financial burdens and sets an inappropriate safety standard for cosmetics. It will also place a significant and unreasonable burden on the FDA that will distract resources from higher priority public safety issues," added Bailey.

Safe Cosmetics Act aims to tighten up cosmetics regulations

The Safe Cosmetics Act was introduced just over a month ago with the aim of tightening the regulation of ingredients and chemicals used in cosmetic and personal care products.

The regulation targets the alleged 12,500 ingredients currently used in formulations by the U.S. cosmetics industry. Proponents of the bill claim that most of these ingredients have not been tested for safety, a claim the PCPC disputes.

Bailey pointed out that the representation by the sponsors of the proposed legislation that there are 12,500 ingredients used in cosmetics is wrong, and that the Council recently published a report showing the number to be much lower - on the order of 6,000 documented ingredients.

Bailey noted that "in fact, ingredient use in cosmetics has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel and that, even under the current law, manufacturers are required to ensure the other ingredients are safe for their use."

If passed, the Safe Cosmetics Act would require safety assessments of all cosmetic ingredients, phase out ingredients linked to cancer and other diseases, and demand full registration of cosmetic manufacturing, packaging and distribution facilities.

On top of that it would also require a pro-rated registration fee, exempt to businesses with annual revenues under $10m, as well as necessitating the use of data sharing on product testing.

Safe Cosmetics Act ' not aligned with accepted scientific practices

As well as being potentially burdensome, Bailey believes the legislation is not aligned with accepted scientific practices and would apply a standard that is inappropriate for cosmetics. "In our opinion the bill is too restrictive in setting a safety standard for cosmetics. Bearing in mind that science is constantly evolving, it is not a good idea to prescribe the details of safety assessment in a legal document that cannot be updated so readily."

Bailey also went on to explain his concerns about how the legislation might impact future product development.

"It also unnecessarily affects product development by putting an excessive burden on the introduction of new and innovative products which could be a problem for a category that has traditionally been driven by functionality, design and consumer demand."

The bottom line, in Bailey's opinion, is that the proposed new legislation will place an unnecessary burden on the cosmetics and personal care industry in the United States that is not justified by the possible risk posed by these products.

"The added time and resources that will have to be invested in following the new legislation is likely to cost the industry heavily, in our opinion approaching millions of dollars, for products that have a strong safety record."

In the second part of this interview, to be published later this week on CosmeticsDesign.com USA, Bailey maps out how the PCPC believes meaningful legislation can be adapted and updated without causing any serious adverse impact to the industry.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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