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

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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."

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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.