From California to Colorado: Three Battles Against Cosmetics

Jun 1, 2010 | Contact Author | By: David C. Steinberg, Steinberg & Associates
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Title: From California to Colorado: Three Battles Against Cosmetics
free-fromx sulfate-freex preservative-freex Californiax Coloradox claimsx
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Keywords: free-from | sulfate-free | preservative-free | California | Colorado | claims

Abstract: In 2004, State Assemblyperson Judy Chu (D–Monterey Park, CA) fired the first bullets at the cosmetics industry by introducing a bill in California to ban certain ingredients from all cosmetics sold in the state.

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D Steinberg, Regulatory review—From California to Colorado: Three battles against cosmetics, Cosm & Toil 125(6) 26-31 (Jun 2010)

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In 2004, State Assemblyperson Judy Chu (D–Monterey Park, CA) fired the first bullets at the cosmetics industry by introducing a bill in California to ban certain ingredients from all cosmetics sold in the state. Known as Assembly Bill (AB) 2025, it followed the European Union’s (EU) direction to ban cosmetics containing anything on Annex II of the EU Cosmetic Directive. This bill was changed five times before it was passed by the State Senate; however, it was subsequently defeated by a single vote in the Assembly.

Supporters of this legislation learned from its defeat, yet industry manufacturers continued the self-destructive practice of promoting their own products as being safe and their competitors’ as containing “unsafe” ingredients. Terms like sulfate-free, alcohol-free, preservative-free and other free-from marketing claims exploded on the marketplace. Behavior such as this plays right into hands of industry opponents who are pushing for the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) required approval of all cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients prior to their being allowed on the market—ultimately removing all cosmetics from the market.

The second battle again took place in California as others picked up Chu’s fight. State Senator Carole Migden (D–San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 484, The Safe Cosmetic Act of 2005. Having learned from previous failure, the authors of SB 484 concentrated on the alleged lack of federal regulations for cosmetics and the claim that the industry uses chemicals “known or suspected of” causing cancer and reproductive harm. Further, Migden claimed that safer raw material alternatives are available, and that SB 484 would not cost more than US $100,000 per year to implement and enforce. This legislation was backed and directed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the justification for it was filled with distortions, half-truths and misleading language.

The bill was passed and signed into law by the governor in 2005, which was a major victory for anti-cosmetic forces. The state was then prompted to draw up a list of chemicals whose use in cosmetics or in fragrances used therein would trigger notification to the state. In this author’s view, the state drew up the list not by using common sense but by taking the easy way and listing all the chemicals on California’s Proposition 65 list and anything on any other cited bodies’ list, regardless of whether or not they are used in cosmetics. When the state finally published its list in 2008, it included 783 chemicals, of which less than 20 have ever been used in cosmetics. The only chemicals on the list that are important to the cosmetics industry are titanium dioxide, Black 2, cocamide DEA, and retinol and its esters.

At an Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) conference in 2010, a speaker from the California government admitted that the state had been authorized to spend close to US $2 million dollars for the SB 484 program since it was passed—and in this author’s opinion, with nothing to show for it except wasted money and several electronic registrations. Now, the state is bankrupt. Shame on the press for not revealing this crime against the citizens of California.

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SB 484 Claims vs. Facts

Following are excerpts taken from SB 484 and author commentary regarding their factuality.

Excerpt: The Legislature finds and declares all of the following: (a) Independent testing in the United States and the European Union has determined that some cosmetic products contain substances known or suspected to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity that can harm the mother, fetus and nursing children.

Fact: No cosmetic contains ingredients known to cause cancer, etc. Since the causes of all cancers are not known, everything can be suspected. The bill also fails to state that more than 90% of reproductive harm comes from consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, which is by ingestion, not inhalation or topical application. This is a distortion of the facts and “wordsmithing.”

Excerpt: Neither the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the State Department of Health Services (DHS) require premarket safety testing, review, or approval of cosmetic products. According to the FDA, the regulatory requirements governing the sale of cosmetics are not as stringent as those that apply to other FDA-regulated products.

Fact: Nowhere in the world is there premarket approval for cosmetics since Japan abolished this in 2002. The FDA does not pre-approve foods, which is the FDA’s major responsibility. Note this use of scare tactics to say cosmetics are unsafe when statistics show that cosmetics have the least number of injuries of any of the products regulated by the FDA.

Excerpt: (c) Under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 301), cosmetics and their ingredients are not required to be approved before they are sold to the public and the FDA does not have the authority to require manufacturers to file health and safety data on cosmetic ingredients or to order a recall of a dangerous cosmetic product.

Fact: True—but what is not said is that the FDA does not have the authority to recall foods, drugs or anything else they regulate. However, if a manufacturer does not voluntarily recall a product per the FDA’s request, the FDA has the authority to seize the product. According to the author, the list could go on, but this gives readers the general idea.

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