Lawmakers Want FDA To Crack Down On Soap Makers

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Peo­ple who are try­ing to do good for their fam­i­lies and the plan­et by liv­ing a sim­ple life based on tra­di­tion­al skills are fac­ing yet anoth­er assault. Arti­sanal soap mak­ers say new reg­u­la­tions, pro­posed by Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein (D‑California) and Sen­a­tor Susan Collins (R‑Maine), will put them out of busi­ness. Many soap mak­ers are rur­al “kitchen table” oper­a­tions that rely on the income to fund their sim­ple liv­ing lifestyle.  Some use milk from goats they raise and ingre­di­ents they har­vest from the land.

The Hand­made Cos­met­ic Alliance post­ed this form on its web­site that can be used to reach out to elect­ed representatives. 

The form includes a state­ment on behalf of hand­made body care prod­uct mak­ers that says, in part: “My prod­ucts com­ply with FDA label­ing require­ments and the ingre­di­ents are com­mon­ly known (i.e, olive oil, oat­meal, sug­ar, coconut oil, etc).  My best cus­tomers are in my com­mu­ni­ty. I can­not afford the user fees pro­posed in S. 1014. Fur­ther, my busi­ness has no capac­i­ty to do the report­ing require­ments for each prod­uct batch (10–50 units) as it could be sev­er­al hun­dred FDA fil­ings per month.” Those who sell online will also be affected.*

The view of Sen. Fein­stein and her cor­po­rate back­ers (list­ed below) is that the Per­son­al Care Prod­ucts Safe­ty Act (Sen­ate Bill S.1014) will make the world a safer place by scru­ti­niz­ing “every­thing from sham­poo and hair dye to deodor­ant and lotion.” She intro­duced the amend­ment to the Com­mit­tee on Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sions, because of trou­bling neg­a­tive health effects from chem­i­cals used in per­son­al care prod­ucts.  She says the Fed­er­al Food, Drug, and Cos­met­ic Act should be more pro­gres­sive like laws in Europe rather than anti­quat­ed US reg­u­la­tions in effect since the 1930s.

If the indus­tries that back this law are real­ly so con­cerned about safe­ty, why don’t they vol­un­tar­i­ly make healthy prod­ucts, like the small time pro­duc­ers already do? I’m call­ing bullshit.

Prob­lem ingre­di­ents Fein­stein cites include:

Meth­yl­ene gly­col, (an ingre­di­ent in the pop­u­lar hair smooth­ing treat­ment known as the “Brazil­ian Blowout”) turns into formalde­hyde when heat­ed, and expo­sure has been report­ed to result in hair loss, rash­es, blis­tered scalps, nose­bleeds, bleed­ing gums, short­ness of breath, vom­it­ing and increased risk of cancer.

Propyl paraben, a preser­v­a­tive used in a wide range of prod­ucts includ­ing sham­poo, con­di­tion­er and lotion, mim­ics the hor­mone estro­gen and can poten­tial­ly dis­rupt the endocrine sys­tem and cause repro­duc­tive sys­tem dis­or­ders. She then goes on to say “con­sumers deserve to know that the prod­ucts they use every day are safe.”

Huh? She just said they’re not safe, which is why I and many women already choose to spend a few dol­lars more on nat­ur­al prod­ucts. Fein­stein does not pro­pose to ban these dan­ger­ous ingre­di­ents from soaps and cos­met­ics, just reg­u­late them with tests and warn­ing labels, fees, and recall author­i­ty. She thinks some of these prod­ucts, though harm­ful to health, mag­i­cal­ly become “safe when used by pro­fes­sion­als in a salon or spa set­ting.” My ques­tion is; after a half cen­tu­ry of so called fem­i­nism, why are women still knuck­ling under to  indus­try pres­sure and vol­un­tar­i­ly pay­ing to have these poi­sons applied to their bod­ies on a reg­u­lar basis? But I digress.

It sounds like the prob­lem could be more eas­i­ly solved with an edu­ca­tion cam­paign, and sub­si­dies for the nat­ur­al soap mak­ers so they could offer their prod­ucts for less and increase their mar­ket share. Why not include them on EBT cards so poor women can buy them — I mean, if you want to real­ly be “pro­gres­sive,” we need to be able to get them at the Dol­lar Store.

Oth­er poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals Fein­stein wants to clamp down on include:

Dia­zo­lidinyl Urea, which is used as a preser­v­a­tive in a wide range of prod­ucts includ­ing deodor­ant, sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, bub­ble bath and lotion.

Lead acetate, used as a col­or addi­tive in hair dyes.

Quater­ni­um-15, a preser­v­a­tive used in a wide range of prod­ucts includ­ing sham­poo, shav­ing cream, skin creams and cleansers.

The new law would require the FDA to review at least five chem­i­cals used in per­son­al care prod­ucts each year… Wait a minute, isn’t there a revolv­ing door between FDA, indus­try lob­by­ists, and Con­gress? Is this yet anoth­er exam­ple of bureau­crat­ic job secu­ri­ty while the small oper­a­tor is forced out of busi­ness? Remem­ber what hap­pened last year, when the FDA wast­ed tax­pay­er (your) mon­ey on a stu­pid claim against Dr. Bron­ner?

Fein­stein says her pro­pos­al is a “stream­lined nation­al sys­tem of over­sight” and it won’t cost the tax­pay­er any­thing because it’s fund­ed by indus­try user fees (until they pass the extra cost to the con­sumer, that is). Big multi­na­tion­al soap mak­ers may be able to man­age the increased fees and paper­work called for by Sen­ate Bill S.1014 but the the Hand­made Cos­met­ic Alliance says they will crip­ple their cot­tage indus­tries. They tried to explain this to Fein­stein with­out success.

The sen­a­tor assures the new law encour­ages pub­lic input with many oppor­tu­ni­ties built in for con­sumer groups, com­pa­nies, med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, sci­en­tists and the pub­lic to weigh in …but accord­ing to the Hand­made Cos­met­ic Alliance, they’re already not lis­ten­ing.

The HCA had sev­er­al meet­ings over many months with the spon­sor of S. 1014 and pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion to sup­port small busi­ness exemp­tions sim­i­lar to those the 2011 Food Mod­ern­iza­tion Safe­ty Act (FSMA). Sad­ly, a deci­sion was made to use pre­scrip­tion drugs and med­ical device stan­dards for small hand­made cos­met­ic busi­ness­es.  This does not make sense.  My prod­ucts are soaps, lotions and scrubs made large­ly with food-grade ingre­di­ents found in any gro­cery store,” accord­ing to the let­ter pro­vid­ed by HCA, that nat­ur­al soap mak­ers can send to lawmakers.

Com­pa­nies and brands that sup­port the bill:

John­son & John­son, brands include Neu­tro­ge­na, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubri­d­erm, Johnson’s baby products.

Proc­ter & Gam­ble, includ­ing Pan­tene, Head & Shoul­ders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gab­bana, Guc­ci, Ivory, Cov­er­Girl, Olay, Sebas­t­ian Pro­fes­sion­al, Vidal Sassoon.

Revlon, brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum

Esteee Laud­er, brands include Esteee Laud­er, Clin­ique, Ori­gins, Tom­my Hil­figer, MAC, La Mer, Bob­bi Brown, Don­na Karan, Ave­da, Michael Kors.

Unilever, brands include Dove, Tre­semme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxze­ma, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sun­silk, Vase­line, Degree.

L’Oreeal, brands include L’Oreeal Paris, Lan­come, Gior­gio Armani, Yves Saint Lau­rent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Gar­nier, May­belline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken.
S. 1014 [Con­gres­sion­al Record Vol­ume 161, Num­ber 57 (Mon­day, April 20, 2015)] [Sen­ate] [Pages S2274-S2275] From the Con­gres­sion­al Record Online through the Gov­ern­ment Pub­lish­ing Office []

*”As more con­sumers choose to shop online, it is of grow­ing impor­tance that they have access to the same prod­uct infor­ma­tion they would see in a store. This bill requires all per­son­al care prod­ucts sold online to include infor­ma­tion that is on the label. Con­sumers will be able to see all ingre­di­ents list­ed, along with any prod­uct warn­ings and oth­er impor­tant infor­ma­tion on use.”