ACC Defends the Safety of Confidential Products

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has assured consumers that confidential products launched to the market are safe and notes that the confidentiality of these products protects innovation and jobs. The ACC's statement was in response to an article featured in the Washington Post implying that chemical manufacturers can place secret products on the market, and claims by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act allows the chemical industry to stamp a trade secret claim on the identity of two-thirds of the chemicals introduced to the market. It furthers that a large number of these chemicals are used in everyday products such as plastic products and apparel.

According to an ACC press statement, “Chemical safety is a paramount consideration in chemical manufacturing and use; and, for this reason, health and safety information on chemical products should never be considered confidential.” The ACC noted that the chemical industry operates under a robust regulatory system—one that promotes safety. In addition, specific chemicals can be claimed as confidential but this protects a company's investment in time, money and human resources in the R&D process. In the end, the manufacture and use of a substance must always fully comply with the requirements of the law.

Mike Walls, ACC vice president of regulatory and technical affairs, commented in the statement,“Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), producers and importers must gain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval before a new chemical substance can enter the US market. The law and EPA’s regulations permit the specific chemical identity to be recognized as confidential business information (CBI), when appropriate, to protect legitimate commercial interests and in those cases the EPA requires that generic identifying information be provided." He added that balanced confidentiality laws help to protect trade secrets that foster innovation and create jobs. "Most importantly, the law requires the EPA to disclose CBI if there are significant risks to health and the environment," he stated.

The debate for disclosure of trade secret ingredients on personal care product labels has been lively in recent years as products have become more complex and competitive, and as real estate on labels has become scarce. Like the broader chemicals industry, the personal care industry is permitted to use trade secret ingredients by the US Food and Drug Administration after several conditions have been met, including the manufacturer has identified the ingredient to the agency and has applied for a request for exemption from label declaration. On a product label, such trade secret ingredients are listed as and other ingredients within the ingredient listing. For more information on these requirements, visit the FDA Web site.

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