Key House Committee Approves Landmark Cosmetics Safety Legislation

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

WASHINGTON – Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health today approved landmark cosmetics safety legislation, a significant step toward finally protecting consumers from potentially toxic chemical ingredients in personal care products.

The Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 5279) is authored by Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). The bill would, among other provisions, require cosmetics companies to substantiate the safety of their products, notify the Food and Drug Administration of any adverse health events, give the FDA the power to conduct its own safety reviews, and mandate that manufacturers provide more transparency about ingredients on their labels.

EWG’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber issued the following statement today after the subcommittee vote:

“Chemicals and contaminants linked to serious health risks can be found in food, water and many everyday products. However, no category of consumer products is subject to less government oversight than cosmetics and other personal care products. Although many of the chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics likely pose little risk, repeat exposure to some chemicals and contaminants used in cosmetics and other personal care products has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer,” said Faber. “Since 2009, 617 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 93 chemicals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm in more than 81,000 products."

“By voting to advance Rep. Pallone’s bill today, House leaders have taken an important and historic first step. It’s been more than 80 years since a committee of Congress last voted to update cosmetics law. A law enacted in 1938 to prohibit the use of ‘filthy, putrid, or decomposed’ substances is woefully out of date. Simply put, cosmetics law has not kept pace with changes in regulatory science and consumer expectations. We applaud Rep. Pallone for continuing to make reform of our broken cosmetics safety law a priority.”

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.