The $50 billion a year cosmetics industry is in for a battle royal. One side is led by companies like Procter & Gamble, Revlon, Unilever, Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal and their trade association – formerly known as The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. The group changed its name last year to the Personal Care Products Council. On the other side is a consumer coalition – the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The issue involves federal regulation of the cosmetics industry. Presently, there is no real regulation and the industry enjoys self-regulation.
The campaigners want Congress to pass landmark legislation that will impose strict federal regulation on the industry. Stacy Malkan is a spokeswoman for the campaign. She is currently touring the country, promoting her new book “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” Ms. Malkan argues that personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, aftershave, lotion and makeup are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other government agency. She says it’s perfectly legal and very common for companies to use ingredients that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins in their products.
Ms. Malkan says legislation will be introduced by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) that will, for the first time, impose federal regulation. She says in an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter:
The details of the bill are being worked out. But the basics are – mandatory safety testing, full disclosure of ingredients, banning the worst chemicals, substituting safer alternatives, and giving the FDA real power and authority over the industry. We would like to see a safety panel with toxicologists and scientists who are accountable.
Ms. Malkan says currently there is a regulatory body of sorts called the Cosmetics Ingredients Review Panel. She doesn’t believe the panel is very effective. In this regard, Ms. Malkan says:
They claim to be independent of the trade association. But they are funded by them and they do share office space. And their recommendations are voluntary. They screen ingredients for safety. They make recommendations to the industry. But often, their recommendations are just ignored. It’s not much of a safety system. And they have looked only at about 11% of the chemicals used in cosmetics.
The FDA admits it has little power over the industry. Currently, manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, to market a product without a government review or approval. The European Union (EU) is far ahead of the United States when it comes to regulation of cosmetics. It is also asking cosmetics companies to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to not use toxic chemicals and to make safer, reformulated products readily available in the U.S. and in every market they serve.
Ms. Malkan says that more than 1,000 companies have signed on so far, but these are mostly small natural product companies. And together they have a very small share of the market. None of the big companies have signed on to the compact. It appears that the industry will not accept federal regulation lightly. It will be a tough fight.
Source: Corporate Crime Reporter
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