– As FDA officials and the cosmetics industry prepared to huddle behind
closed doors without input from outside groups to discuss "regulatory
obstacles" between countries, Environmental Working Group (EWG)
released the results of a new investigation that found literally
hundreds of cosmetics sold in the U.S. contain chemicals the industry
itself has determined to be unsafe even when used as directed. Many of
the products lining the shelves of stores in the U.S. actually included
chemicals most other countries have outright banned. In a letter to the
head of FDA, EWG protested the absence of public health, consumer and
environmental organizations at the meeting scheduled for Thursday of
this week in Brussels.
"Cosmetics do not have to be approved as
safe by the FDA before they are sold. As a result, they too often
contain dangerous ingredients banned in Europe and Japan or chemicals
deemed unsafe for specific uses by their own industry scientists," said
Jane Houlihan, VP for Research at EWG.
"Nearly 90 percent of ingredients in
personal care products have not been assessed for safety by anyone, so
we are not sure what 'regulatory obstacles' the FDA and industry need
to minimize," Houlihan added.
"It's an outrage that the FDA would shut
consumers out of this important process," said Janet Nudelman,
Coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, "especially since
they've set a place for the cosmetics industry at the table."
In a new analysis of the ingredients in
more than 23,000 products, EWG discovered that nearly 1 of every 30
products sold in the U.S. fails to meet 1 or more industry or
governmental cosmetics safety standards. EWG's investigation also found
nearly 400 products sold in the U.S. containing chemicals that are
prohibited for use in cosmetics in other countries, and over 400
products containing ingredients the U.S. cosmetic industry's own safety
panel has determined to be unsafe when used as directed
Unlike for drugs and food additives, FDA
has no authority to require that cosmetics be tested for safety before
they are sold. An industry-funded panel, not a government health
agency, reviews the safety of cosmetic ingredients in the U.S. EWG
research shows that this largely self-regulated industry routinely
fails to adhere to their own safety panel's advice and to heed the
health warnings inherent in cosmetic safety standards set in other
The results of EWG's investigation can be found at http://www.ewg.org/node/22610 along with a copy of the letter to FDA.