US Cosmetics Manufacturer Recalls Products Over Asbestos Findings

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FDA claims four products tested positive for the carcinogenic fibres

US cosmetics manufacturer and distributor Beauty Plus Global Inc has recalled four of its products due to asbestos contamination, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In a consumer safety notice, sent out last week, the FDA said the company voluntarily recalled the talc products after the agency found they tested positive for asbestos.

The four products, from the company’s City Color range, are:

  • Matte blush (fuchsia);
  • Cosmetics timeless beauty palette; 
  • Bronzer (sunset); and 
  • Shimmer bronzer (caramel).

The FDA is advising consumers not to use the products, and to report any adverse events to its MedWatch reporting portal. 

It is the second time since May that Beauty Plus Global has issued a product recall following FDA tests.

The company did not respond to Chemical Watch’s request for comment on the test findings, or answer its question on how it is addressing the issue, by the time of publishing.

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at NGO Environmental Working Group, said “it is troubling to think how many people have used talc-based cosmetics products potentially contaminated with asbestos, when inhaling even the smallest amount can cause cancer later in life.”

Ongoing concern

The recalls are a result of the FDA’s ongoing investigation into the presence of asbestos in talc-containing cosmetics. The agency has issued a call to action requesting that cosmetics manufacturers register their products via the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP).

The investigation was prompted by 2017 reports of asbestos in certain cosmetics products sold by Claire’s.

Asbestos and talc – the latter of which is used in some cosmetic products – are both naturally occurring minerals that can be found in close proximity to each other in the earth. And fibres of asbestos, a known carcinogen, can be found as a contaminant in talc.

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FFDC) does not require FDA review of ingredients in cosmetics before they are offered for sale. Products must be safe for use by consumers “under labelled or customary conditions of use,” according to the agency. It also can monitor products for potential safety problems and take action to address identified concerns. 

Legislation has been introduced to Congress with the aim of reforming the federal regulatory framework covering cosmetics, which hasn’t been updated since 1938. Historically,  however, such measures have failed to get the momentum necessary to become law.

Mr Faber said he hopes members of Congress will “finally recognise the current system, which has allowed the cosmetics industry to operate beyond the reach of FDA’s authority, must end”.

Meanwhile, recent years have seen a large number of legal cases brought against certain cosmetics manufacturers by plaintiffs claiming they developed cancer due to the use of their talc products. These involve both allegations that talc-containing products have been contaminated with asbestos, or that the talc itself resulted in cancer.

Consumer products multinational Johnson & Johnson, for example, has had more than 13,000 lawsuits filed against it over its talc products.

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