Tests confirm asbestos in makeup from Claire's, Justice, FDA confirms

Roman Schwartz
March 7, 2019

In its announcement, the FDA, which regulates cosmetics in the USA, claimed that Claire's "refused to comply" with its request for the company to recall the three items that tested positive for asbestos and warned consumers against using the products.

The FDA says the provisions in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) - the law governing the FDA's oversight of cosmetic products - have not been updated since it was first enacted in 1938 despite the rapid expansion and innovation of the industry. Testing was conducted on behalf of FDA by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and AMA Analytical Services, Inc.

"It is troubling to think just how many people of all ages have been using talc-based cosmetics products potentially contaminated with asbestos, one of the deadliest substances in existence", said EWG Scott Faber, EWG's senior vice president for government affairs.

"The FDA test reports have mis-characterized fibers in the products as asbestos, in direct contradiction to established EPA and USP criterion for classifying asbestos fibers", Claire's spokeswoman Melanie Berry said in a statement. During talc mining, if sites are not selected carefully and steps are taken to purify the talc ore sufficiently, it may be contaminated with asbestos, the FDA said.

The FDA issued a safety alert on certain Claire's eye shadows, compact powders and contour palettes after they were found to contain tremolite asbestos.

"Claire's has informed us that it does not believe that affected products are still available for sale".

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Claire's, which is based in Hoffman Estates, said it removed the three products the agency identified from stores "out of an abundance of caution" but disputed the agency's findings.

Claire's has refused to comply with the FDA's request to recall these products and the agency does not have authority to mandate them to comply, according to the report.

The FDA is issuing the warning even though cosmetics are not required to be reviewed and approved by the FDA prior to being sold to American consumers. They hinted at possible tools for more successful regulation, including improvements in registration requirements, quality of ingredients, reporting practices around safety and access to records, including consumer complaints.

A Justice representative noted that it quickly recalled products in 2017.

In the meantime, USA regulators are asking cosmetics firms to voluntarily register their products and a list of ingredients, including talc, with the FDA. "The recent test results the FDA have shared with us show significant errors". It encouraged health care professionals and consumers who may have medical issues related to the Claire's products to report it to the FDA's adverse events reporting program.

Claire's, based in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, operated 2,471 stores in North America and Europe as of August 2018.

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