Household products company SC Johnson moves the needle on ingredient transparency

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Household products company SC Johnson moves the needle on ingredient transparency

Related tags Sc johnson Herbert fisk johnson iii Perfume Consumer protection

As part of its new skin allergen transparency initiative, SC Johnson now features an online ingredient index. And there are plans to provide consumers access to more comprehensive ingredient information by next year. It’s the sort of move that resets what consumers expect from CPG companies.

SC Johnson has been strategically and incrementally making its household products business more open to consumers. In 2009 the company launched an ingredient disclosure program in the US and Canada and debuted its WhatsInsideSCJohnson website.

In 2015 the company began sharing product-specific fragrance ingredients. Cosmetics Design reported​ the news when SC Johnson announced in late 2014 that such an initiative was in the offing, noting that “this is an exceptional step away from proprietary formulation for a leading US consumer packaged goods company. Fragrance formulas, in particular, are closely guarded across industries.”

Expectation economy

Consumers today increasingly expect corporate transparency as it pertains to ingredients, supply chains, energy use, employment standards, social responsibility, etc. Transparency is set to become the “new normal,” ​according to Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group.

Cook is quoted in the SC Johnson media release as saying, “this is a groundbreaking disclosure of allergens in cleaning products from SC Johnson. By taking these steps, SC Johnson will help millions of consumers be smarter about chemicals in cleaning products that have the potential to cause allergic skin responses.”

“SC Johnson,” ​believes Cook, “is once again raising the bar for other companies. This level of transparency is sweeping across other industries and is rapidly becoming the new normal for companies, like SC Johnson, who place a premium on giving consumers more, rather than less, ingredient information.”

Data set

Company scientists reviewed data from a spectrum of sources—“more than 3,000 data sets from public and industry sources for potential skin allergens identified on country regulatory lists, fragrance industry lists, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reviews, dermatology clinic data and individual supplier safety data sheets”​—to establish a preliminary list of possible skin allergens, according to the release. The final list was validated by a panel of five men with qualifications in toxicology, dermatology, allergens, and the like.

“For us, transparency is a matter of principle. We're interested in helping people make the best choices for their families,” ​Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, tells the press. “Just like when we started listing preservatives, dyes and fragrances, we didn't stop with the industry standard. We want to tell the whole story.”

“This is just the next step we are taking in our journey to be more and more transparent,” ​adds Johnson.

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