New Legislation Aims to Toughen Cosmetics Standards

Lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups squared off with the cosmetics industry’s main lobbying group.

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups squared off with the cosmetics industry’s main trade and lobbying group this week over new legislation aimed at toughening safety standards for ingredients and imposing strict new industry testing and labeling requirements.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) unveiled the “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010” on Tuesday night, calling for an end to what they claim is a highly unregulated industry that relies on self-policing, calling for stronger authority for the Food and Drug Administration and new standards and testing for hazardous ingredients and chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products.

“From lipstick to lotion, our medicine cabinets are filled with personal care products that may contain potentially dangerous chemicals,” said Markey. “This important bill closes a gaping hole in our federal laws that allow potentially dangerous chemicals to remain in the cosmetic products we use every day.”

Schakowsky said, “This legislation requires real FDA oversight and relies on independent, scientific analysis by the FDA of the manufacturers’ claims about which ingredients are safe. Most importantly, a safety standard would ban entirely the use of dangerous chemicals in cosmetics and that is something that the cosmetics industry opposes.”

The legislation would require manufacturers to conduct safety testing on all ingredients; direct the FDA to establish a list of prohibited ingredients; require cosmetics manufacturers to list the name of each ingredient, including the components of fragrances, on each product label; provide recall authority to the FDA for products that fail to meet the new safety standards; require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct annual random sample tests for pathogens or contaminants, and require mandatory reporting of adverse health effects by cosmetics manufacturers, packagers and distributors.

The Personal Care Products Council, the cosmetic industry’s main trade and lobbying group, held a press conference call on Wednesday to defend itself against allegations of rampant use of toxic chemicals in its products and oppose the legislation.

John Hurson, executive vice president for government affairs for the group, said the industry shares the same broad goals with the lawmakers of enhancing FDA oversight of cosmetics and personal care products, but it has major concerns with the legislation.

“We do believe that the bill they proposed has a number of problems,” said Hurson. “It actually proposes new standards for personal care products that are significantly stricter than those currently applied by the FDA to food, drug and medical devices.”

Hurson said one of the industry’s primary concerns and “biggest problems” with the legislation is that it calls for distributors, packers, salons, ingredient suppliers and direct sellers to register with the FDA.

The council released its own proposals last week to strengthen oversight of the FDA and establish a new FDA ingredient review process, among other measures. It will lobby to have its proposals included in pending legislation introduced by Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.).