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Investigation Finds More Than 400 Cosmetic Products on U.S. Shelves Unsafe When Used as Directed

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FDA, Cosmetics Industry Lock Out Consumer, Public Health Groups from Meeting

WWASHINGTON – As FDA officials and the cosmetics industry prepared to huddle behind closed doors without input from outside groups to discuss “regulatory obstacles” between countries, Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the results of a new investigation that found literally hundreds of cosmetics sold in the U.S. containing chemicals the industry itself has determined to be unsafe even when used as directed. Many of the products lining the shelves of stores in the U.S. actually included chemicals most other countries have outright banned. In a letter to the head of FDA, EWG protested the absence of public health, consumer and environmental organizations at the meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week in Brussels. 

 “Cosmetics do not have to be approved as safe by the FDA before they are sold. As a result, they too often contain dangerous ingredients banned in Europe and Japan or chemicals deemed unsafe for specific uses by their own industry scientists,” said Jane Houlihan, VP for Research at EWG.” 
“Nearly 90 percent of ingredients in personal care products have not been assessed for safety by anyone, so we are not sure what “regulatory obstacles” the FDA and industry need to minimize,” Houlihan added.
"It's an outrage that the FDA would shut consumers out of this important process," said Janet Nudelman, Coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, "especially since they've set a place for the cosmetics industry at the table."
In a new analysis of the ingredients in more than 23,000 products, EWG discovered that nearly 1 of every 30 products sold in the U.S. fails to meet 1 or more industry or governmental cosmetics safety standards. EWG’s investigation also found nearly 400 products sold in the U.S. containing chemicals that are prohibited for use in cosmetics in other countries, and over 400 products containing ingredients the U.S. cosmetic industry’s own safety panel has determined to be unsafe when used as directed
Unlike for drugs and food additives, FDA has no authority to require that cosmetics be tested for safety before they are sold. An industry-funded panel, not a government health agency, reviews the safety of cosmetic ingredients in the U.S.  EWG research shows that this largely self-regulated industry routinely fails to adhere to their own safety panel’s advice and to heed the health warnings inherent in cosmetic safety standards set in other countries.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The results of EWG’s investigation can be found at, along with a copy of the letter to FDA.

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