During a symposium held yesterday in Paris, Roselyne Bachelot called on France’s agency for the safety of health products (AFSSAPS) to research the risk of cosmetics use during pregnancy and by young children, particularly those products distributed in maternity wards.
Discussions surround the potential reproductive toxicity of certain chemicals that may be found in cosmetics products, namely certain phthalates and parabens.
The minister said she planned to explain the potential risks of such products in the information given to pregnant women, and would consider a logo warning pregnant women off certain products.
“I would like to investigate, in partnership with the industry, the possibility of putting a logo on products that may be reproductively toxic indicating that they are not recommended for use by pregnant women and young children,” said Bachelot, as quoted in French newspaper Le Figaro.
Trade body attacks toxic claims
The French cosmetics trade association (FEBEA) responded rapidly to Bachelot’s arguments, saying some of the information about the ingredients included in cosmetics products was not correct.
The cosmetics industry does not use bisphenol A and only uses one phthalate (diethylphthalate or DEP) which according to the SCCP is not an endocrine disruptor, FEBEA said.
In addition, the association clarified the use of parabens within the industry.
“Regarding the preservatives only 4 parabens are authorised for use in cosmetics: methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens.”
Similarly, according to SCCP opinions methyl- and ethyl-parabens are not endocrine disruptors.
However, the trade association conceded that propyl- and butyl- parabens have been at the root of controversy of late although the most recent SCCP opinion (published in June this year) indicates they have no effects on hormone concentrations or on the male reproductive organs.
FEBEA also highlights that these preservatives are authorised for use in food products at concentrations larger than those seen in cosmetics.
Although the trade association said it would be willing to work with the health authorities, it expressed surprise that it wasn’t consulted by Bachelot prior to the symposium.
“Regarding the measures announced Tuesday 25 November 2008, by Madame Roselyne Bachelot, the cosmetics industry, even though it was not consulted about this subject, will be willing to collaborate with the health authorities as it has been doing for decades,” said FEBEA in a statement.