According to Dr Chris Flower, director general of the organization, MI has been reviewed by the European Commission’s independent scientific experts, who have confirmed the safe use of MI and CMI in cosmetic products.
He also points out that the substances are on the approved list of cosmetic products in the European Union, where the industry is regulated by strict laws.
The statement from the association comes after a group of doctors and dermatologists revealed they are planning to present their findings on patch tests of MI at the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) Annual Conference, which runs from 8-11 July in Liverpool.
They claim that increased concentrations of the substance in cosmetic products are leading to a rise in contact dermatitis, which causes the skin to blister and become red and itchy.
Dr Flower states that the preservatives MI and CMI are normally used in products at very low levels, ranging from 0.01 to 0.0015 per cent.
He says: “These legally allowed levels are much lower than the levels that have apparently been used in the patch testing reported by the media.”
The director general claims that safety is the number one priority of the cosmetics industry: “Products are carefully made to ensure that they withstand normal use and this will generally include preservatives to prevent contamination by microorganisms and so keep the consumer safe."
The European Society of Contact Dermatitis (ESCD) has also written to the European Commission requesting an investigation into the harmful effects of MI.
According to Dr Ian White at St John’s Institute of Dermatology; “Bluntly, I think the European Commission has been negligent over this, they have had warning after warning. If it was food there would have been action.”
However, Dr Flower has pointed out that patch testing is unreliable since it includes substances in much greater concentrations than they are found in cosmetics products.
He said: “Patch testing may use higher than normal levels of the substances in the testing procedure in a specifically selected group of patients who already believe they may have an allergy, but this does not reflect the real life scenario in the general population.
“It does not mean that a person would react to the substance when it is used at a much lower level in a consumer product, such as a cosmetic product, nor that 10 per cent of people are allergic to cosmetic products containing MI.”