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Congress Set to Reform Law on Personal Care Product Safety

Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., have introduced a bill that will reform the current law on the use of ingredients in personal care products including cosmetics, reports The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The legislation would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to ensure that personal care products don’t contain harmful ingredients, overhauling the existing law, passed in 1938, that allows the cosmetics industry to make decisions about ingredient safety, according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 calls for a phase-out of ingredients that are linked to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses, a disclosure of ingredients on labels and government testing of products for hazardous chemicals ingredients.

The Chicago Tribune says the call for testing of cosmetics was the result of a Tribune investigation in May that found some skin-lightening creams contained very high mercury levels.

The legislation is expected to impact personal care product makers in several ways.

In addition to fully disclosing ingredients in products, manufacturers will have to register their companies and products with the FDA, and pay sliding-scale fees based on total annual sales to ensure the FDA has the resources to evaluate the safety of ingredients and make that information available to companies (companies under $1 million in annual sales are exempt from fees). Manufacturers also will have to share safety data about product ingredients and ensure that all ingredients in the company’s products have been assessed for safety.

Lisa Archer, national coordinator for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, told the Chicago Tribune that more than 12,500 chemicals are found in personal care products, but the average consumer has no way of knowing which are safe. This results in exposure to about 126 chemicals each day.

She also noted that the organization conducted its own testing and found carcinogens, including formaldehyde, in children’s bath products and hormone disruptors in fragrances.

The organization has launched a 7-minute video, The Story of Cosmetics, which discusses the use of toxins in the beauty industry.

Lezlee Westine, president and CEO of the Personal Care Products Council, a national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry, released a statement in response to the legislation.

Here’s an excerpt from her statement. “We are concerned that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 as written is not based on credible and established scientific principles, would put an enormous if not impossible burden on FDA, and would create a mammoth new regulatory structure for cosmetics, parts of which would far exceed that of any other FDA-regulated product category including food or drugs. The measures the bill would mandate are likely unachievable even with the addition of hundreds of additional FDA scientists and millions more in funding and would not make a meaningful contribution to product safety.”

Westine also asked Congress to consider the group’s recently announced proposals to strengthen the FDA’s cosmetics oversight. The group’s plan includes enhanced FDA registration, a new process to set safety levels for trace constituents, a new FDA ingredient review process, new FDA oversight of Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) findings and FDA-issued good manufacturing practices.

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