[podcast] EWG vs. the Industry on Cosmetic Ingredient Safety


By now, nearly 500 cosmetic manufacturers should have received the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) survey asking whether their products contain the trace contaminant 1,4-dioxane. According to the group's database, at least 8,000 products on the market contain ethoxylated ingredients and may be contaminated with the chemical, which is a suspected carcinogen—although according to various experts, not at levels of concern from cosmetic products.

The EWG survey followed a recent petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to ban 1,4-dioxane from personal care products. In relation, Scott Faber, EWG's senior vice president of government affairs, said in a statement, "The health risks posed by exposure to 1,4-dioxane deserve immediate action from the FDA." He added, "Manufacturers need to be aware of the hazardous substances found in their personal care products."

But they are aware. And they are already taking measures toward reducing levels of this manufacturing by-product to acceptable standards, as illustrated by a report from the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation, issued in January 2017. However, a total ban is not in the plan because scientifically, this is not a sound approach. Then again, tell that to EU regulators.

On the surface, this seems like a story about an activist group stirring up unnecessary fear based on misinterpreted science to target an "unregulated" industry. And a self-regulated industry allegedly putting dollars ahead of safety. But the reality is actually much deeper and philosophical in nature.

In this exclusive podcast, Rachel Grabenhofer, managing editor of Cosmetics & Toiletries, digs into the heart of the EWG survey, to understand the motivation behind it. She also explores two philosophically divergent views: the precautionary principle vs. risk/exposure, which seems to be the underlying cause of strife for both "sides" of this and many other ingredient safety debates.

Listen now for commentary from:

  • Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the EWG;
  • David Steinberg, cosmetics regulatory consultant and long-time industry expert;
  • Carl Geffken, cosmetics regulatory consultant and long-time industry expert; and
  • Bart Heldreth, Ph.D., lead chemist of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review.

Join the debate! Post your opinion on the Cosmetics & Toiletries LinkedIn page or leave a message for Rachel Grabenhofer at 1-630-344-6072.

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