Statement By Francine Lamoriello, Executive Vice President, Global Strategies Personal Care Products Council on Importance of Honoring Agreement With Mexico

“The Personal Care Products Council urges the U.S. Administration to work with Congress to resolve our differences with Mexico on cross border trucking commitments negotiated under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  In particular, the Administration and Congress should seek to immediately eliminate the 15 percent tariffs recently imposed by Mexico on U.S. manufactured products, specifically personal care products.

“As a global industry, our member companies strongly support free trade and depend on open borders to manufacture, supply, distribute and market a broad array of personal care products that consumers around the world use every day.  Our members include manufacturers of finished products, suppliers of raw materials and the ingredients that go into those products, packaging and other industry services.

“Mexico’s recently imposed tariffs affect virtually all personal care products including makeup and skincare, manicure and pedicure preparations, shaving-related goods, hair care products, oral care, deodorants and antiperspirants. In 2008, the value of exports to Mexico, the third largest export market for U.S. personal care products behind Canada and the United Kingdom, was more than $300 million.

“The Council is actively engaged with foreign industry associations, foreign governments, and the U.S. Government to advocate free trade policies and resist technical barriers that would hinder international product development and marketing, and would result in jobs lost at home and abroad.   We encourage a speedy resolution.”

Activist Group Allegations About Baby Care Products False; Products Meet Established Safety Standards

Allegations made today that commonly used baby products are somehow contaminated with harmful levels of carcinogenic chemicals are patently false and a shameful and cynical attempt by an activist group to incite and prey upon parental worries and concerns in order to push a political, legislative and legal agenda.

The allegations about the presence of 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde in personal care products were made in a report to be released March 12, 2009, by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC).  The levels of the two chemicals the group reportedly found are considered to be “trace” or extremely low, are well below established regulatory limits or safety thresholds, and are not a cause for health concern.  When present, these chemicals would likely be found at very low levels precisely because companies have gone to great lengths in the formulation and manufacturing processes to ensure that the products are safe and gentle for children and also protected from harmful bacterial growth.  

“Contrary to their attempt to position this report as something new and scientifically noteworthy, there is nothing revelatory or scientifically objective in it,” said Dr. John Bailey, chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council.  “The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent panel of scientific and medical experts who assess the safety of ingredients used in U.S. cosmetic and personal care products, and other authoritative bodies throughout the world have long been aware of the potential presence of 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde in personal care products and found them to be safe when present at low levels.”

The report is one of many the group has issued in the last several years attacking different preservatives and other chemicals used in personal care products and cosmetics, misrepresenting the science behind the products and their safety, and grossly distorting the facts about how the products are regulated in the U.S. and around the world.  

1,4 dioxane in personal care products

1,4 dioxane is a byproduct that can form in trace or miniscule amounts during the manufacturing process for ingredients that help to ensure mildness of some personal care products such as shampoo and bubble bath.  The presence of 1,4 dioxane can be controlled and minimized, and raw material manufacturers routinely take necessary steps to reduce its presence to the lowest feasible levels. The extremely low levels of 1,4 dioxane reported by CSC likely reflect efforts by manufacturers to control the levels of this contaminant through proper selection of raw materials and quality control of finished products.

FDA has monitored 1,4 dioxane in cosmetic and personal care products since the 1970s by assessing products and raw materials using sophisticated analytical methods.  The levels at which any substance would be considered harmful in a cosmetic or personal care product depends on the conditions of use and exposure. FDA has stated that the 1,4 dioxane levels found in their monitoring of personal care products and cosmetics “do not present a hazard to consumers.”

FDA’s statement about 1,4 dioxane in personal care products may be found at:

Formaldehyde in personal care products

Formaldehyde is a simple compound consisting of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.  It occurs naturally in the air we breathe and is even part of the human metabolism.  Plants and animals also produce formaldehyde, and it is released as a byproduct of certain vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, when they are cooked.

Historically, formaldehyde was first used as a biological preservative more than a century ago.  Today, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are ingredients that help to ensure the safety of products by protecting them from harmful contamination by microorganisms during storage and during continued use by consumers.  These preservatives have the ability to replace used-up formaldehyde by releasing it in very small amounts over time as needed. The use of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives ensures that the actual level of free formaldehyde in the product remains very low but sufficient enough to prevent or eliminate bacterial growth.  Exposures to formaldehyde through personal care products are generally extremely low.

The CIR Expert Panel concluded that formaldehyde in cosmetics and personal care products is safe and should not exceed 0.2 percent (2,000 ppm) when measured as free formaldehyde.

Likewise, the European Union’s Cosmetic Directive allows use of formaldehyde in cosmetic and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 0.2 percent or 2,000 ppm (free formaldehyde).   The EU Cosmetics Directive may be found at:

The FDA regulation for formaldehyde may be found at:…

All of the levels allegedly found in the report are far below this 0.2 percent (or 2,000 ppm) safety threshold.

FDA Regulatory Authority

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), companies must substantiate the safety of all ingredients and products before they are marketed. The Act requires that labeling be truthful and not misleading.  The laws give FDA broad legal authority to regulate cosmetic and personal care products and provides severe penalties for the manufacturers of products that do not meet these standards, including fines, seizures, bans and prosecution.

“Cosmetic and personal care product companies take their commitment to safety and their responsibilities under the law very seriously and work hard to earn and keep the trust of consumers and their families,” Bailey said.  “Parents should be given complete and accurate information about their products based on sound science rather than on incomplete and alarmist reports.”