EU ban on carcinogenic substances up for debate

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

EU ban on carcinogenic substances up for debate
Denmark’s minister for environment and food has criticised the European Commission’s move earlier this year to clarify that carcinogenic substances are not automatically banned from use in cosmetics products.

Traditionally, if a substance is classified as a CMR under the CLP Regulation in Europe, it has been considered automatically banned for use in cosmetics.

However, this September the Commission stated that for CMR substances to be banned in cosmetics automatically, this needs to be put in place via a specific act in the relevant annexes of the cosmetics regulation.

Esben Lunde Larson has lambasted this clarification from the Commission in his recent letter, noting that it means in principle, consumers can now be exposed to harmful substances.

Unacceptable change in perception

Larson said he ‘could not accept’ the change in the EU perception on these substances, in light of the fact the move was made with no warning or consultation.

I cannot accept that with no warning or consultation the European Union is simply changing their perception of the rules, so that in principle Danish consumers can be exposed to these harmful substances​,” he said.

The minister also voiced concerns that any companies which look to continue eliminating these substances from their formulations in order to maintain safety are likely to now be up against unfair competition.

This will also expose Danish businesses to unfair competition if they continue to comply with the automatic ban. Therefore, I have written a letter to the European Commission, in which I encourage them to maintain the automatic ban,​” he said.

What’s wrong with CMR substances?

According to Larson, CMR substances have been banned since 2010 for use in cosmetics products because they are known to have carcinogenic potential and could impair fertility.

The Commission's website currently lists the following advice: “As a general principle, substances classified as CMR substances of category 1A, 1B, or 2 under Part 3 of Annex Ⅳ to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 are banned for use in cosmetic products. Exceptions to this general rule are possible subject to the conditions laid down in Article 15 of the Cosmetics Regulation​.”

CosmeticsDesign reached out for a response from the Commission to Larson’s letter, but have not received a response at the time of publication.

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