Time for Congress to Act?

Two pieces of legislation purporting to improve and increase regulation of the cosmetics industry are making their way through Congress. The "Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011" and the "Cosmetic Safety Amendments Act of 2012" each promise to update federal regulations and put more power into the FDA's ability to monitor the industry.

Originally introduced in 2010 (where it died in committee) the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 is sponsored by Democratic representatives and contains strong provisions requiring the phasing out of ingredients linked to cancer. The Republican backed Cosmetic Safety Amendments Act of 2012 does not call for an outright ban on ingredients, but does attempt to create more formal processes for the FDA to review ingredients and set safety levels.

Details including how to pay for the expanded regulation and how to reconcile the two bills remain to be worked out. However, testimony before Congress earlier this year revealed two very salient facts:

1. The FDA cosmetic oversight program is staffed by just 53 people, compared to the more than 3,000 who work in the FDA drug review program.

2. The number of chemical ingredients banned in the United States is 10. In contrast, the European Union has banned more than 1,200 ingredients.

Seems like some kind of update to regulations first crafted in 1938 is a good idea. Even most of the cosmetics companies agree.

Information on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

Congress urged to modernize cosmetics laws