Schakowsky Amends Safe Cosmetics Act; Reintroduces It to the House

On June 24, 2011, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 10 co-sponsors introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (H.R. 2359) to the US House of Representatives, which aims to amend title VI of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The bill is an update to the Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010 (H.R. 5786), which was introduced into the House on July 20, 2010, and reportedly includes changes to ease potential burdens on small cosmetic manufacturers and to clarify the intent of the bill. According to a press release posted to Schakowsky's website, the Act requires stricter labeling requirements and gives the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the ability to order recalls of dangerous products.

The bill would require the secretary of the US Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) to conduct annual random sample tests for pathogens or contaminants in cosmetic products. In addition, it would require cosmetics manufacturers to register with the FDA and pay a registration fee based on annual gross receipts or sales. Small businesses with less than US $2 million in revenue from cosmetics would be exempt from registration, and businesses with less than US $10 million in revenue from cosmetics would be exempt from registration fees.

If passed, the bill would require the FDA to establish a list of ingredients that are prohibited from cosmetics, such as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins. It would provide the FDA with recall authority for products that are misbranded, adulterated or that otherwise fail to meet the safety standard, and the FDA could request a voluntary recall or order the cessation of distribution of any such cosmetic product.

Cosmetic manufacturers, packagers and distributors would be required to provide the FDA with reports of adverse health effects associated with the use of any cosmetic. Also, manufacturers that create products for salon use would be required to provide information on any health hazards linked with those cosmetics.

“The growing number of reports of serious health problems arising from the use of dangerous chemicals in personal care products show a need to update our laws and protect men, women and children from harmful exposure,” said Rep. Schakowsky, in the press release. “Currently, manufacturers are not required to disclose all their ingredients on labels and the FDA has no power to supervise the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetics. Americans are left in the dark about harmful mystery ingredients in personal care products; consumers deserve confidence that the products that they use will not hurt them.”

The bill currently is referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Education and the Workforce for a period to be subsequently determined by the speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has published its support of the bill. Also in response, Lezlee Westine, president and CEO of the Personal Care Product's Council, noted the following in a press release by the organization: “We are working with the House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership to propose reasonable, science-based changes to the law that will meaningfully enhance cosmetics regulation without over-burdening [the] FDA or imposing costly and unnecessary restrictions on business." She added, “We are still reviewing the provisions of Rep. Schakowsky’s new bill, but we are very concerned that, as written, it contains provisions that will place unnecessary burdens on FDA and businesses of all sizes and may compromise jobs without providing meaningful benefits to consumers."

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