Will Congress Regulate Cosmetics?

Last year, Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) proposed legislation to regulate the currently under-regulated cosmetic industry.

The legislation, called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, recognized that as the number of potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products has grown, so has the responsibility to monitor the industry selling them in order to protect the public. The regulation is needed, the legislators said, because “consumers are in the dark about the potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products.”

The proposed legislation would have provided additional regulatory muscle to the Food and Drug Administration by requiring:

Registration of Cosmetic Companies and Registration Fees: Cosmetics companies would be required to register with FDA and pay a registration fee based on annual gross receipts or sales. Small businesses with less than $2 million in revenues from cosmetics would be exempt from registration; businesses with less than $10 million in revenues from cosmetics would be exempt from registration fees.

Cosmetic and Ingredient Testing and Safety: FDA would establish a list of ingredients prohibited from being used in cosmetics. This includes carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins.

Post Market Testing: Requires annual random sample tests for pathogens or contaminants in cosmetic products.

Ingredient Labels on Cosmetics: The label on each package of cosmetics would be required to list the name of each ingredient. This includes the components of a fragrances and preservatives.

Market Restrictions: Provides the FDA with recall authority for products that are misbranded, adulterated, or otherwise fail to meet the safety standard and can request a voluntary recall or order the ceasing of distribution of any such cosmetic product.

Mandatory Reporting of Adverse Health Effects: Cosmetic manufacturers, packagers, and distributors would have to provide the FDA with reports of adverse health effects associated with the use of a cosmetic.

Worker Issues: Requires companies that manufacture cosmetics for salon use to provide information on any health hazards linked with those cosmetics.

States Rights: States may set more stringent standards.

Fast forward to 2012. The cosmetic industry has jumped into the fray. A number of industry associations are working with Congress to advance regulatory reforms. It is unclear whether the trade associations support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on March 27th to examine the state of the nation’s personal care products industry and discuss the regulation of products. The congressional hearing will begin at 10:15 a.m. You may be able to watch the hearing using this link:


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