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Shareholders Press Avon Over Ingredients

The Green Century Equity Fund has issued a proposal for the direct seller to review the safety of ingredients used in its products.

Avon Products Inc. investor The Green Century Equity Fund has issued a proposal for the direct seller to review the safety of ingredients used in its products. It plans to present the proposal at Avon’s annual meeting, scheduled to be held on May 2.

In a filing issued on Thursday, the fund calls for shareholders to vote for a report from Avon that outlines the company’s policy to “substitute in safer alternatives for such chemicals — even when science remains uncertain — as a means of responding to emerging safety concerns, benchmark the company’s policies against emerging best practices of others in the cosmetics and personal care sector, and evaluate the reputational risks of inaction.”

Green Century asserted that failure to do so could result in financial and reputational risk for Avon.

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Avon has responded to the upcoming proposal in a proxy statement, stating “Consumer safety is a top priority at Avon… We are confident in the safety of our products and comply with applicable safety regulations worldwide. Moreover, regulatory compliance is only a starting point. Although cosmetic ingredient restrictions may differ around the world, Avon has a global product safety standard that often exceeds country-specific regulatory requirements. Only ingredients that can be used safely are used in our products. Every ingredient in every product must undergo a thorough and formal review, and the safety of every product is substantiated before being introduced to consumers. Our multidisciplinary team of scientists behind the process includes toxicologists, microbiologists and chemists, each of whom are experts in their field.”

Avon noted that its policies and position statements on particular ingredients and product safety are publicly available in the Corporate Responsibility Report on its Web site.

The company stated, “Therefore, the board believes that the preparation and publication of a report on this subject by September 2013, as requested in the proposal, is unnecessary, would not provide material additional information to shareholders and would unnecessarily divert the company’s resources without benefit to them.”