HR2359 The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, Safe Cosmetics ActTo Amend Title VI of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to Ensure the Safe Use of Cosmetics and For Other Purposes.

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September 3, 2013 by thesoapalchemist

Almost a full year ago, I blogged about HR5786, The Safe Cosmetics Act that was presented in the 111th Congress in July 2010. Small cosmetic businesses around the country rose to the occasion and voiced our disapproval of this bill that would impose overreaching regulations on our entrepreneurial endeavors.

Groups such as Donna Maria’s Indie Business Network began circulating petitions gathering support for the bill’s opposition. The Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild established a Legislative Advocacy Committee, and solicited donations for a Legislative Advocacy Fund to fight the proposed legislation. We were all appalled that the government would impose product testing requirements on those of us using ingredients that are GRAS (generally regarded as safe), that nightmarish paperwork and data submission requirements would be imposed on us, and that trace elements in our ingredients would need to be discovered and disclosed on our labels, potentially even minute particles found in water (which vary depending on the water’s source).

We were particularly upset that small businesses would fall under the same umbrella of restrictions and regulations that large corporations would be subject to. What was being presented as an effort to ensure safe cosmetics did little to help that cause or protect the public, and instead buried small business under stacks of unnecessary, burdensome regulation.

On June 24th, a newly written bill, HR2359 The Safe Cosmetics Act to Amend Title VI of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to Ensure Safe Cosmetics and For Other Purposes was presented to the 112th Congress, sponsored by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Il), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D, WI) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA).  The new legislation is co-sponsored by:

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Rep. Judy Chu, (D-CA)

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Rep. James Moran (D-VA)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL)

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

HR2359 has been referred to the House Education and the Workforce committee, and the House Energy and Commerce committee, to discuss the provisions of the bill that fall under each respective committees’ jurisdiction.

It will be interesting to see how the concerns of the small business cosmetic industry are addressed in the new bill. As of 12:30am June 26, the text of HR2359 had not been released by the Government Printing Office. Apparently, after a bill is presented to the Congress, it can take a few days for the text to be made public, and sometimes longer, if the GPO is experiencing a back log of print requests.

Ideally, we would like to see exemptions for small businesses. We would like exemptions for products labeled as “Soap,” which do not currently fall under the Food and Drug Act’s jurisdiction. We would also like to be able to use ingredients without restriction, so long as they are already GRAS. As an industry, we welcome legislation that prohibits the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products, but demand that such legislation recognizes that many chemicals that are toxic at high levels, are perfectly safe at lower levels. We want legislation that is based on true science, rather than over-generalizing, fear inducing databases such as EWG’s Skin Deep database.  Legislation should above all, be applied fairly and reasonably, and not cause unnecessary fear or burden.

President and CEO Lezlee Westine, of The Personal Care Products Council made the following comment regarding presentation of the new HR2359 Safe Cosmetics Act two days ago.

“We are still reviewing the provisions of Rep. Schakowsky’s new bill, but we   are very concerned that, as written, it contains provisions that will place unnecessary burdens on (the) FDA and businesses of all sizes and may compromise jobs without providing meaningful benefits to consumers. Strong federal safety requirements already govern cosmetics and personal care products sold in the U.S. The safety of cosmetic and personal care products in the U.S. is overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which requires that all cosmetics be substantiated for safety before they are marketed, contain no prohibited ingredients, and that all labeling and packaging be in compliance with U.S. regulations. Under the FD&C Act it is a crime to market an unsafe cosmetic product.”

We the people should demand safe cosmetics, but we should also demand laws that serve the public interest, not special interest and lobbying groups. I am looking forward to the text of the new HR2359 to be released to discover whether or not our elected policy makers were listening when we objected so loudly to HR5786.
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