In March of 2019, Claire’s Stores, Inc., a popular tween store found in malls across the country, voluntarily recalled 3 products containing talcum powder 2 years after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found the presence of asbestos fibers in product samples. The delayed recall, which is attributed to the cosmetic company’s refusal to take action, made it possible for countless people to unwittingly purchase contaminated products and bring them into their home and use them. Some may still be in use today.
Commonly found in cosmetics and personal care items, such as powders, talcum powder is derived from a natural mineral called talc. According to the American Cancer Society, talc can contain the carcinogen asbestos in its natural form. If talcum powder is created from talc that contains asbestos, it will contain asbestos and, in turn, so will all the products that are made with that particular batch of powder.
In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association, a trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care industry, issued voluntary guidelines and methods of testing regarding asbestos and talc. Basically, the guidelines state that all talc used in cosmetics in the U.S. should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos.
But are they? Subsequent to finding asbestos in some cosmetic products, the FDA surveyed samples from major talc suppliers in the U.S. Of all samples tested, no asbestos was found. However, only 4 of 9 suppliers handed over samples. Therefore, it is impossible for the FDA to conclude that all cosmetics and personal care items sold in the country are free from asbestos.
Cosmetics do not need FDA approval before they go on the market, but they must be properly labeled by law and they must be safe for use. To ensure that this is so, the FDA regularly samples products on the market and tests them for asbestos. This routine testing is how the issue with Claire’s cosmetics came to light.
When the FDA finds issues, it does have authority to pursue enforcement actions and remove unsafe products from retail shelves. It can also prosecute firms or individuals who violate the law. Additionally, the FDA plans to work with manufacturers to help them establish procedures that will ensure the purchase of safe raw ingredients for their products.
~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness