Ten reasons why you should not support SCA 2011

The Environmental Working Group, who have given birth to this legislation, is an incompetent organization that does not understand the science of toxicology, does not understand natural products, and that takes a biased, negative view of safety, often seeing dangers that do not exist.

  1. SCA 2011 requires that all ingredients of ingredients must be declared on product labels or company websites (where labels are not large enough). This unfairly targets companies that make natural products. A product containing several herb extracts and/or essential oils will have an ingredient list with thousands of ingredients. This will make reading ingredient lists harder for consumers, not easier.
  2. Unlike some other safety regulations, SCA 2011 does not distinguish between a naturally occurring substance (such as an ingredient of a herbal extract) and the intentional addition of a synthetic chemical. The end result of this will be that many herb extracts and essential oils will no longer be permitted as cosmetic ingredients as has already happened in Europe.
  3. SCA 2011 requires that “contaminants” (the word is not defined anywhere in the bill) that are present in a cosmetic at one part per billion or over be declared on the ingredients list. This expectation is naïve, unnecessary and impractical. Even pharmaceuticals are not regulated to such a degree.
  4. SCA 2011 requires a safety standard for cosmetics that is defined as a risk not greater than one in a million. Demonstrating this conclusively would, by definition, require testing on millions of either animals or humans. This is similarly naïve, unnecessary and impractical but if enforced, would mean that there will be no cosmetics, because it is an unreachable standard.
  5. The above safety standard is specifically stated to include all “vulnerable populations” including a sick person with a compromised immune system, someone with asthma, and a newborn infant. Every cosmetic produced has to present zero risk to every human being. However, zero risk is a fantasy of the EWG – it does not exist on planet Earth.
  6. Even though the bill includes a clause about alternatives to animal testing, the stipulations of SCA 2011 for safety testing for carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity will necessitate the deaths of thousands of animals because there are as yet no viable substitutes for these two toxicity tests.
  7. The massive amount of new testing proposed by SCA 2011, and all the attendant administration will cost billions of dollars. One way or another, this cost will be passed on to consumers. This is not the time to be spending this kind of money on unnecessary legislation.
  8. The amount of checking, testing, listing, re-designing, re-formulating, re-printing and form-filling would be a massive burden to cosmetics companies. Some, both large and small, will go out of business, with attendant job losses.
  9. Labeling regulations are already onerous for any company selling internationally. Since the labeling requirements of SCA 2011 are not in line with those of any other country or region, this will create chaos in the industry.
  10. Although SCA 2011 delegates authority to the FDA, it also allows for any “responsible party” to file a claim that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. This is the EWG giving itself the power to endlessly pursue products or companies that it does not like.

Cosmetics safety regulations in the USA could be improved, but this is not the answer. It is over-reaching, unworkable and unnecessary.

15 comments to Ten reasons why you should not support SCA 2011

  • I appreciated seeing your quick and responsible reaction to this proposed legislation, thank you.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for the information. What can we do to stop this legislation?

  • Thank you Robert for this alarming clarification. Has everyone gone mad? 1. The lists of ingredients on labels is absurd. The expenses to both government, and the manufacturer is huge. The end result will be increased prices and everyone will lose…

  • A petition to oppose SCA 2011 has just been set up here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/no-2-sca-2011/

  • “Dear” Robert :>) This cosmetic act is practically the worst thing that can happen in our Aromatherapy/Herb world. This will be catastrophic. Thanks very much for presenting more valuable insight to this horrrible bill/act. The world does not need this. I understand safety in products, but this is truly overboard. We need to do everything we can to stop this horrible bill/act.

    Many aromatic blessings,
    Marlene Mitchell
    Representative of Western Canada with the
    Alliance of International Aromatherapists

  • Jen

    Robert, thank you.

  • Dear Robert,

    Firstly, I would like to say that I have read most of your books and I have a great deal of respect for you and for your work. I believe that your viewpoint is valuable and could be of great service to the authors and supporters of the SCA 2011. This bill is still a living document and your constructive critique could still help to shape the bill. In the mean time, please see below for my response to your blog post.

    The Environmental Working Group, who have given birth to this legislation, is an incompetent organization that does not understand the science of toxicology, does not understand natural products, and that takes a biased, negative view of safety, often seeing dangers that do not exist.

    **I can see that you are not in support of the efforts of the EWG, which is your prerogative – however, you should know that they are certainly not the only organization involved in creating this bill. Along with the bill authors, the campaign for safe cosmetics spans a large number of NGO’s with a wide range of expertise. In addition, many cosmetic companies have been involved in shaping the bill to help ensure that there is a balance between cosmetic safety and the health of small businesses.

    1. SCA 2011 requires that all ingredients of ingredients must be declared on product labels or company websites (where labels are not large enough). This unfairly targets companies that make natural products. A product containing several herb extracts and/or essential oils will have an ingredient list with thousands of ingredients. This will make reading ingredient lists harder for consumers, not easier.

    **This is not actually true. This was the case in the 2010 version of the bill, but the 2011 version no longer has that particular requirement. All botanicals can be listed as they are listed now. There may be some rare cases in which specific allergens may need to be listed separately, as is the case in the EU.

    2. Unlike some other safety regulations, SCA 2011 does not distinguish between a naturally occurring substance (such as an ingredient of a herbal extract) and the intentional addition of a synthetic chemical. The end result of this will be that many herb extracts and essential oils will no longer be permitted as cosmetic ingredients as has already happened in Europe.

    **I would be interested to hear which herb extracts and essential oils have been banned from the EU. We currently sell our products, which contain a great number of herb extracts and essential oils, in the EU and we have not yet had to remove any of our ingredients, with the exception of citronella oil. Is this a big concern in the EU? Have there been many natural ingredients banned? If so, which ones?

    3. SCA 2011 requires that “contaminants” (the word is not defined anywhere in the bill) that are present in a cosmetic at one part per billion or over be declared on the ingredients list. This expectation is naïve, unnecessary and impractical. Even pharmaceuticals are not regulated to such a degree.

    **I agree – this restriction on contaminant listing should be redefined. Let’s work with the bill authors to reword this section so that it makes more sense. I would suggest that the contaminant labeling requirements be directly linked to specific contaminants of concern and the levels at which they are deemed impactful.

    4. SCA 2011 requires a safety standard for cosmetics that is defined as a risk not greater than one in a million. Demonstrating this conclusively would, by definition, require testing on millions of either animals or humans. This is similarly naïve, unnecessary and impractical but if enforced, would mean that there will be no cosmetics, because it is an unreachable standard.

    **I believe that there is a bright future for alternative testing. In conversations with the Leaping Bunny Coalition and with PETA, I have found that there is a great deal of movement towards creating viable alternatives and in the very near future we will not need to rely on animal testing for accurate toxicity screening. That being said, how would you reword this section to make the requirements more realistic – The main goal being to create the absolute safest cosmetics possible? The bill authors need realistic feedback from our industry that does not damage the integrity of bill and its goals.

    5. The above safety standard is specifically stated to include all “vulnerable populations” including a sick person with a compromised immune system, someone with asthma, and a newborn infant. Every cosmetic produced has to present zero risk to every human being. However, zero risk is a fantasy of the EWG – it does not exist on planet Earth.

    **I believe that your assessment of this section is different from the intent of the bill. For example, people with asthma or specific allergies are not intended to be considered as immune deficient. As far as being safe for newborn infants, this is largely based on the studies that have shown harmful cosmetic chemicals to be present in the mother’s body. Perhaps this section could be reworded to clarify that cosmetics intended for women of childbearing age or infants need to be held to a higher level of safety.

    6. Even though the bill includes a clause about alternatives to animal testing, the stipulations of SCA 2011 for safety testing for carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity will necessitate the deaths of thousands of animals because there are as yet no viable substitutes for these two toxicity tests.

    **We could and should work to improve this section of the bill to strengthen its support of more humane testing practices. The alternative toxicology testing research is a world wide effort at present and is rapidly evolving. The EU has already banned the use of animal testing and they are actively seeking alternatives for the carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity testing. As I wrote above, in vitro testing options are becoming more prevalent and more accurate. The bill does not specify which testing would be required to ensure that ingredients are safe, however, now is the time that we could help push the industry away from animal testing and support the development of safe and humane alternatives. That being said, most other countries do require safety substantiation for all ingredients, this includes the entire EU.

    7. The massive amount of new testing proposed by SCA 2011, and all the attendant administration will cost billions of dollars. One way or another, this cost will be passed on to consumers. This is not the time to be spending this kind of money on unnecessary legislation.

    **Whether or not this legislation is unnecessary is subjective, but please don’t underestimate the hidden costs of unsafe products. The above costs that you are throwing around are based on speculation not fact. You may be surprised at how much of this required testing has already been conducted and if made public could be used to support the safety of many commonly used ingredients. I would also reiterate – most other countries are requiring similar ingredient safety verification, and in fact, this bill would give use the extensive EU safety data which has already to help determine ingredient safety.

    8. The amount of checking, testing, listing, re-designing, re-formulating, re-printing and form-filling would be a massive burden to cosmetics companies. Some, both large and small, will go out of business, with attendant job losses.

    **This legislation exempts small micro-businesses for just that reason. The bill recognizes the administrative burden that the registration process would incur. You are making the assumption that companies would go out of business. I might suggest that the requirements of the bill alone would not be enough to put a healthy company out of business, small or large. These requirements are not substantially different from international registration and testing requirements and our industry is strong enough to shoulder this burden.

    9. Labeling regulations are already onerous for any company selling internationally. Since the labeling requirements of SCA 2011 are not in line with those of any other country or region, this will create chaos in the industry.

    **The US is already completely out of compliance internationally with our current cosmetic labeling laws or lack thereof, so I don’t see how the SCA would create additional chaos. As an international company, we learn to deal with the varying regulations and labeling laws of each of the countries that we work with.

    10. Although SCA 2011 delegates authority to the FDA, it also allows for any “responsible party” to file a claim that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. This is the EWG giving itself the power to endlessly pursue products or companies that it does not like.

    **There is no reason why a responsible party should not be allowed to file a claim if they are concerned that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. It is up to the FDA to determine whether or not that claim is valid – but to deny someone the right to make that claim would be denying freedom of speech.

    Cosmetics safety regulations in the USA could be improved, but this is not the answer. It is over-reaching, unworkable and unnecessary.

    **If you agree that the cosmetic safety regulations could be improved, why not work with the organizations in support of this bill to help make this bill into the improvement that you would like to see in this industry. Nothing is set in stone here. As I wrote before, you could lend your voice toward helping to strengthen and improve this important piece of legislation rather than simply opposing it.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my response. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to continue the dialog.

    Sincerely,
    Rebecca Hamilton
    W.S. Badger Company

  • Firstly, I would like to say that I have read most of your books and I have a great deal of respect for you and for your work. I believe that your viewpoint is valuable and could be of great service to the authors and supporters of the SCA 2011. This bill is still a living document and your constructive critique could still help to shape the bill. In the mean time, please see below for my response to your blog post.

    #Thank you!

    The Environmental Working Group, who have given birth to this legislation, is an incompetent organization that does not understand the science of toxicology, does not understand natural products, and that takes a biased, negative view of safety, often seeing dangers that do not exist.

    **I can see that you are not in support of the efforts of the EWG, which is your prerogative – however, you should know that they are certainly not the only organization involved in creating this bill. Along with the bill authors, the campaign for safe cosmetics spans a large number of NGO’s with a wide range of expertise. In addition, many cosmetic companies have been involved in shaping the bill to help ensure that there is a balance between cosmetic safety and the health of small businesses.

    #It scares me how much influence the EWG has, and how many mistakes are on its database, Skin Deep, including a substantial amount of misleading, one-sided information about essential oils and essential oil constituents, in spite of recent revisions. The enthusiasm with which so-called “toxic chemicals” are pursued and “outed” by NGOs such as EWG and CFSC is, unfortunately, mixed with an almost fundamentalist fervor that quite often blinds them to science. Any protesting voices are put down to the evil machinations of the cosmetic chemicals industry that, it seems, is trying really hard to make cosmetics with toxic ingredients, and to hide this from the unsuspecting consumer. SCA 2011 is a product of this thinking, evidenced by the unrealistic expectations of safety. If the authors of SCA 2011 have consulted with toxicologists and cosmetic chemists, then I suggest that it’s not apparent in the wording of the bill.

    1. SCA 2011 requires that all ingredients of ingredients must be declared on product labels or company websites (where labels are not large enough). This unfairly targets companies that make natural products. A product containing several herb extracts and/or essential oils will have an ingredient list with thousands of ingredients. This will make reading ingredient lists harder for consumers, not easier.

    **This is not actually true. This was the case in the 2010 version of the bill, but the 2011 version no longer has that particular requirement. All botanicals can be listed as they are listed now. There may be some rare cases in which specific allergens may need to be listed separately, as is the case in the EU.

    #This depends on how you interpret the wording, which is currently ambiguous. The bill states:

    “The term ‘ingredient’ means a chemical in a cosmetic, including—
    (i) chemicals that provide a technical or functional effect;
    (ii) chemicals that have no technical or functional effect in the cosmetic but are present by reason of having been incorporated into the cosmetic as an ingredient of another cosmetic ingredient
    (v) the components of a fragrance”

    Essential oil constituents are chemicals, whether or not they provide a “technical or functional effect”. They could also be interpreted as being components of a fragrance. This needs clarifying by re-wording, and I suggest to you that it’s more evidence that parties with varied interests were not consulted in the drafting of SCA 2011.

    2. Unlike some other safety regulations, SCA 2011 does not distinguish between a naturally occurring substance (such as an ingredient of a herbal extract) and the intentional addition of a synthetic chemical. The end result of this will be that many herb extracts and essential oils will no longer be permitted as cosmetic ingredients as has already happened in Europe.

    **I would be interested to hear which herb extracts and essential oils have been banned from the EU. We currently sell our products, which contain a great number of herb extracts and essential oils, in the EU and we have not yet had to remove any of our ingredients, with the exception of citronella oil. Is this a big concern in the EU? Have there been many natural ingredients banned? If so, which ones?

    #The EU allergens legislation has resulted in many substances (linalool, limonene, benzyl alcohol, anisyl alcohol, benzyl salicylate, benzyl benzoate, coumarin and farnesol) being flagged as allergens, when the science does not and has never supported this conclusion. Other essential oil constituents (citral, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol, isoeugenol and possibly others) should be restricted or flagged on labels, but 50% of the 16 EU constituent “allergens” that are found in essential oils have been wrongly accused – see: http://roberttisserand.com/2011/06/negative-bias/. Although the legislation only requires that these appear on ingredients lists, very few retail outlets in Europe will now stock products unless they conform to the 0.001% and 0.01% maximums for, respectively, leave-on and wash-off products. Methyleugenol, a common essential oil constituent and rodent carcinogen, is restricted to varying amounts, in the region of 0.0004%. The end result is that essential oils containing many of these constituents are, in my opinion, unreasonably restricted, and in many instances effectively banned, the permitted quantities being so tiny. This is in spite of the fact that some essential oils containing methyleugenol (for example) have anticarcinogenic properties. See: http://roberttisserand.com/2010/02/tunnel-vision/

    3. SCA 2011 requires that “contaminants” (the word is not defined anywhere in the bill) that are present in a cosmetic at one part per billion or over be declared on the ingredients list. This expectation is naïve, unnecessary and impractical. Even pharmaceuticals are not regulated to such a degree.

    **I agree – this restriction on contaminant listing should be redefined. Let’s work with the bill authors to reword this section so that it makes more sense. I would suggest that the contaminant labeling requirements be directly linked to specific contaminants of concern and the levels at which they are deemed impactful.

    #This sounds sensible, and when you say “impactful” let’s also remember that the skin only absorbs a very small percentage of what is applied to it – often in the region of 1%.

    4. SCA 2011 requires a safety standard for cosmetics that is defined as a risk not greater than one in a million. Demonstrating this conclusively would, by definition, require testing on millions of either animals or humans. This is similarly naïve, unnecessary and impractical but if enforced, would mean that there will be no cosmetics, because it is an unreachable standard.

    **I believe that there is a bright future for alternative testing. In conversations with the Leaping Bunny Coalition and with PETA, I have found that there is a great deal of movement towards creating viable alternatives and in the very near future we will not need to rely on animal testing for accurate toxicity screening. That being said, how would you reword this section to make the requirements more realistic – The main goal being to create the absolute safest cosmetics possible? The bill authors need realistic feedback from our industry that does not damage the integrity of bill and its goals.

    #This is not primarily about whether or not to use animals for testing, it’s about how you quantify risk. It is refreshing to see the word “risk” used in the bill (instead of simply referring to “carcinogens” etc.) because it is a key word. Safety regulations should be centered on whether a substance presents a risk to humans in the amounts used. I am not going to try to re-write the bill here, but I repeat: this requirement is unrealistic, and could not be met by any product or substance.

    5. The above safety standard is specifically stated to include all “vulnerable populations” including a sick person with a compromised immune system, someone with asthma, and a newborn infant. Every cosmetic produced has to present zero risk to every human being. However, zero risk is a fantasy of the EWG – it does not exist on planet Earth.

    **I believe that your assessment of this section is different from the intent of the bill. For example, people with asthma or specific allergies are not intended to be considered as immune deficient. As far as being safe for newborn infants, this is largely based on the studies that have shown harmful cosmetic chemicals to be present in the mother’s body. Perhaps this section could be reworded to clarify that cosmetics intended for women of childbearing age or infants need to be held to a higher level of safety.

    #Which harmful cosmetic substances have been shown to be present, and at what concentrations? The presence of a substance in the body is not, in itself, cause for alarm. I do not think I said that people with asthma or allergies should be considered immune deficient. My point is this – zero risk is a nice idea, but it’s unrealistic. If your standard for safety is that no-one on planet Earth could possibly ever have an adverse reaction to any given product or ingredient, then there will simply be no cosmetics and no cosmetic industry. Minimal risk is what we need to aim for, and it’s tough to define, but not impossible.

    6. Even though the bill includes a clause about alternatives to animal testing, the stipulations of SCA 2011 for safety testing for carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity will necessitate the deaths of thousands of animals because there are as yet no viable substitutes for these two toxicity tests.

    **We could and should work to improve this section of the bill to strengthen its support of more humane testing practices. The alternative toxicology testing research is a world wide effort at present and is rapidly evolving. The EU has already banned the use of animal testing and they are actively seeking alternatives for the carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity testing. As I wrote above, in vitro testing options are becoming more prevalent and more accurate. The bill does not specify which testing would be required to ensure that ingredients are safe, however, now is the time that we could help push the industry away from animal testing and support the development of safe and humane alternatives. That being said, most other countries do require safety substantiation for all ingredients, this includes the entire EU.

    #There is virtually no-one, including pharmaceutical companies, who is against the idea of less animal testing. Alternatives are not only less cruel but also very much cheaper, and this is very attractive to those companies that pay for it. However, molecular structure can only give us a rough idea of likely toxicity, and there is still no genotoxicity, mutagenicity or gene expression test that will accurately predict whether a substance will actually produce malignant tumors in a live animal. The EU made unrealistic demands for the timing of phasing out certain tests, and has had to revise several deadlines already. I’m quite sure we will get there eventually, but it will likely take some years yet.

    7. The massive amount of new testing proposed by SCA 2011, and all the attendant administration will cost billions of dollars. One way or another, this cost will be passed on to consumers. This is not the time to be spending this kind of money on unnecessary legislation.

    **Whether or not this legislation is unnecessary is subjective, but please don’t underestimate the hidden costs of unsafe products. The above costs that you are throwing around are based on speculation not fact. You may be surprised at how much of this required testing has already been conducted and if made public could be used to support the safety of many commonly used ingredients. I would also reiterate – most other countries are requiring similar ingredient safety verification, and in fact, this bill would give use the extensive EU safety data which has already to help determine ingredient safety.

    #You say my costs are based on speculation, but actually they are based on the numbers reported by the same NGOs that are pushing this legislation forward – approximately 10,000 cosmetic ingredients, 75% not tested, therefore 7,500 ingredients that would need to be tested. Carcinogenicity testing (please note: almost never done as unpublished research) costs several million $$ for one single substance. Therefore, we would be talking billions. Very simple math, and that’s just for carcinogenicity testing. Proving safety is a decades-old challenge facing all those that produce or regulate consumer products, and there are few easy, cheap or quick solutions. You seem to suggest that the EU has access to safety data that is unknown in the US, but surely it’s all academic papers, in the public domain anyway. Copying some of the EU legislation would be, I believe, a mistake. But one aspect of EU legislation that I like, is that most of the time, a single substance is regulated. Sweeping legislation always carries the risk of magnifying unforeseen problems compared to incremental legislation.

    8. The amount of checking, testing, listing, re-designing, re-formulating, re-printing and form-filling would be a massive burden to cosmetics companies. Some, both large and small, will go out of business, with attendant job losses.

    **This legislation exempts small micro-businesses for just that reason. The bill recognizes the administrative burden that the registration process would incur. You are making the assumption that companies would go out of business. I might suggest that the requirements of the bill alone would not be enough to put a healthy company out of business, small or large. These requirements are not substantially different from international registration and testing requirements and our industry is strong enough to shoulder this burden.

    #Well, let’s agree that we disagree on this one.

    9. Labeling regulations are already onerous for any company selling internationally. Since the labeling requirements of SCA 2011 are not in line with those of any other country or region, this will create chaos in the industry.

    **The US is already completely out of compliance internationally with our current cosmetic labeling laws or lack thereof, so I don’t see how the SCA would create additional chaos. As an international company, we learn to deal with the varying regulations and labeling laws of each of the countries that we work with.

    #A fair point – there’s little compliance right now, and that situation would not improve, though the US labeling regulations would change. I do wonder why INCI is not referred to in SCA 2011.

    10. Although SCA 2011 delegates authority to the FDA, it also allows for any “responsible party” to file a claim that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. This is the EWG giving itself the power to endlessly pursue products or companies that it does not like.

    **There is no reason why a responsible party should not be allowed to file a claim if they are concerned that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. It is up to the FDA to determine whether or not that claim is valid – but to deny someone the right to make that claim would be denying freedom of speech.

    #In that case, surely there’s no need to include such a provision in the bill.

    Cosmetics safety regulations in the USA could be improved, but this is not the answer. It is over-reaching, unworkable and unnecessary.

    **If you agree that the cosmetic safety regulations could be improved, why not work with the organizations in support of this bill to help make this bill into the improvement that you would like to see in this industry. Nothing is set in stone here. As I wrote before, you could lend your voice toward helping to strengthen and improve this important piece of legislation rather than simply opposing it.

    #In my opinion, radical changes to the wording would be needed that would reflect a change in attitude. I do wonder if such a change is feasible.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my response. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to continue the dialog.
    Sincerely,
    Rebecca Hamilton
    W.S. Badger Company

  • Paula Gehringer

    It alarms me that so many believe if the bill’s intentions are not clear or the language is open to interpretation this will all be ironed out somewhere along the way before the bill is signed into law.

    This bill is currently in two committees. It is during this time that amendments can be offered and revisions made. Once it is out of committee another chance to amend the bill comes when it is being debated by the Committee of The Whole which consists of the whole house.

    Once the bill becomes law the role of determining how to enforce the bill in order to meet the intentions of the bill is given to whichever Federal agency has rule making authority over the bill. The less clear a bill is the more likely that the rules applied will go overboard in their determination of how to enforce that bill. This is especially true if there is little or no language that limits the bill’s reach.

    Now here is the fun part. If a person or a company wants to challenge the law it is now a judicial matter as it is the duty of the courts to interpret the law. The process of bringing a legal claim is expensive, time consuming and beyond the scope of most small companies such as those who would be so negatively impacted by this bill.

    You must never, ever assume problems with a bill can be taken of care of while it goes through the process. Bad bills and this one is a whopper of a bad bill should be killed ASAP. There should be no talk of compromise. No talk of we will fix it later.

    Because believe me you think the bill is bad and will be devastating now as written? Wait until the rule making authority gets ahold of it and decides to clarify the language based on their own interpretation. I guarantee you will not be happy with the results.

  • Rebecca: “You may be surprised at how much of this required testing has already been conducted and if made public could be used to support the safety of many commonly used ingredients.”

    Rebecca, I think the PUBLIC would be surprised to find out how much testing has already been conducted, because the message the EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is promoting, and the media has picked up, is that “99% of cosmetics in the USA contain completely untested ingredients”, and that “89% of the cosmetic ingredient being used in this country have never been tested at all”!

    I think the public need to understand how really safe most cosmetic ingredients actually are. And that way the focus could be on the ones that do need to be either banned, or restricted, or studied more. By making the focus all 12,500 (or so) cosmetic ingredients — we miss the opportunity to really narrow down the hazards and result in actual safer cosmetics. Everything we put on our skin does not absorb. Everything that does get absorbed does not pass into the bloodstream. Of those chemicals that do absorb into the bloodstream, not all cause harm or are toxic. But some ingredients/chemicals do cause harm topically, or once absorbed into the skin, or once they pass into the bloodstream. Why not focus on THOSE?? Because if there are only 12, or 120 and not 12,500 – the organizations behind this bill would not get as many fund raising donations? What other explaination is there? Sue Sawhill Apito

  • Some good points brought up so far.

    My two scents (pun intended).

    The bill is simply a knee jerk reaction to fear mongering. Knee jerk reactions too often paint everything with the same brush in an attempt to control things with a Zero Risk policy.

    Zero Risk policies, as Robert said, are figments of our imagination. They make us feel good, but don’t really do much to eliminate risk. They throw a blanket over ALL hazards, big or small, and disable us from seeing the SPECIFIC hazards that we need to be concerned with. This is an example of a label with 1000+ ingredients. Even if everyone complied, which consumer would actually take the time to read all of them and how many of those would truly understand?

    Stated earlier by Sue, it would be much more effective to focus in on the 12 or 20 most toxic or ill effecting ingredients than to try to control everything.

    As far as legislation goes I’ll quote myself on a recent debate over introducing law to curb “texting and driving”. I said this…
    “Why are we introducing new laws to control this when we already have existing laws to do the same thing. The fact is the old laws were and are poorly enforced. Introducing a new law won’t make a difference. What I propose is focus our energy to ENFORCE EXISTING LAWS instead of drafting a new one.”

    I’m willing to bet there are already laws in place to control such hazards to an acceptable risk. However, like other laws, they’re probably so poorly enforced that noone knows they exist.

  • Speaking as someone who lives in and sells in the EU, I was surprised at how lax the FDA/US are in regulation of skincare products. On the other hand, imho the EU goes way overboard. And, I believe, so does the current law under review in the US.

    For example, right now all products sold have to be safety assessed by a cosmetic chemist. In 2013, all products containing water will also have to be challenge tested. For a small company like mine, this is onerous. Many small companies have resorted to buying ‘bases’ from bigger companies, and selling them under their own brand. In this way, the big guy bears the burden of testing (but it’s not satisfactory if you enjoy supplying your own formations!!).

    The labelling is also quite strict in comparison, but it’s not as expensive an overhead as the testing side.

    Also difficult is the paperwork. Each ingredient you use needs its own INCI information, and allergen information. You also need Good Working Practice documentation, safety assessment certificates, and insurance.

    It’s easy to feel victimised as one of the little guys!

  • Hi Robert,

    Thank you for your response and for emailing me directly! While we may agree to disagree on some points, we have the same goal at heart. We all want to see safe cosmetics! I believe that your knowledge and input are very valuable and I hope that we will be able to work together toward our mutual goal.

    Best wishes,
    Rebecca Hamilton

  • Diana Kaye

    For the benefit of those just joining the conversation, I am writing to clarify a response/statement that was posted here by a guest in regard to a comment made by Robert. The statement (that is also being widely promoted on various web sites by numerous bloggers and others) is incomplete and may thus be misunderstood by anyone who did not read the text of the proposed bill.

    In the current version of this proposed legislation, it is significant to note that micro-businesses are only exempt from submitting a registration form with the FDA. The proposed bill does not offer micro-businesses an exemption in regard to being in compliance with all of the onerous stipulations of the proposed bill — contaminant (whatever this might mean) testing of individual ingredients and finished products, new labeling requirements, the collection and reporting of enormous amounts of data, etc.

    One other omission in this proposed legislation is that there is no exemption for USDA certified organic personal care products. Several small personal care companies have voluntarily chosen to undergo the rigorous and invasive USDA certification process – facility inspections (and cleaning logs and mousetrap schedules inspections!), organic materials purchasing and usage documentation, label and web site reviews, etc. – because they are committed to having the highest quality ingredients and finished products that are as healthy as possible. A number of these small companies actually grow some, if not all, of their organic botanicals that they use in their personal care products and, according to this proposed bill, they would be required to conduct extensive testing of their certified organic herbals every time they harvest.

    It is an interesting point of contrast to note that no small organic herb/veggie grower, bakery or other food processor is currently required to do this type of extensive testing for their certified organic ingredients that are sold as food products and that one actually puts in one’s mouth! It is absurd and ridiculous to propose a dramatically higher standard for organic herbal products that are applied to the skin than for foods that one eats.

    To clarify, as the proposal is currently written, the ingredient testing stipulation of the proposed bill would require every personal care products crafter and perfumer to conduct extensive and expensive tests for every herb and flower (for every harvest) that they may grow and use in one of their company’s products – even if that crafter/grower is certified organic.

    Wow. This legislation sounds like it is a nifty method of ridding the marketplace of lots of small personal care crafting businesses – those pesky entrepreneurs who are always talking about how they started their businesses because they wanted healthier, more natural products.

    This proposed legislation is misguided, impractical, and is not consumer-friendly or small business-friendly. Ultimately, all of these significant extra costs would be passed on to the consumer.

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