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FDA: Asbestos found in Claire's Stores cosmetics containing talc

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, its regulatory framework of 80 years needs to be updated to test the safety of cosmetics. Currently, cosmetics manufacturers are not required to test their products for safety before selling them on the American market. The FDA has proposed working with Congress to remedy that.

The proposal comes after a safety alert in which the FDA identified four talc-based cosmetics sold at the retail chain store Claire's. The FDA says that the Claire's compact powder, contour palette and eye shadows it tested contained asbestos.

If you have been following the story of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder, you know that talc, a naturally occurring mineral, can sometimes contain asbestos. Johnson & Johnson is facing multiple lawsuits claiming it knew its talc products were tainted with asbestos, failed to warn the public, and that, as a result, numerous people developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.

Claire's disputes the FDA's findings. The company said the test results "show significant errors" and "mischaracterized fibers in the products as asbestos." Still, it pulled the three products from shelves, along with "any remaining talc-based cosmetic products," out of an abundance of caution.

"There is no evidence that any products sold by Claire's are unsafe," it said. Yet this isn't the first time asbestos has been found in makeup products containing talc, including products from Claire's.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported last May that it studied several makeup products from Claire's in the Netherlands and found asbestos contamination. The products were pulled from stores. Claire's has disputed the accuracy of those tests too. It claims it obtained testing at independent labs in both the U.S. and the European Union and that the products complied with all cosmetic safety regulations.

Should Congress update the FDA's regulatory authority over cosmetics?

Besides the safety alert regarding the Claire's products, the FDA also announced that it is investigating the sources of talc used by cosmetics manufacturers, along with what steps they take, if any, to test the talc or their finished products for safety. It didn't name specific manufacturers.

"We also want to know how many cosmetics products contain talc and whether manufacturers have received adverse event reports associated with talc-containing products," said the agency.

Changes to the regulatory framework surrounding cosmetics might include, for example, requiring companies to disclose known allergens in their products, report adverse events to the FDA, and provide access to customers' complaints during inspections.

Meanwhile, the FDA is asking cosmetics companies to register their products and their ingredients, including talc, with the FDA voluntarily.

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