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Pallone Releases Letter From FDA Outlining Troubling Statistics on Imported Cosmetic Products

Aug 2, 2017
Press Release
Less Than ONE percent of Imported Cosmetic Products Are Inspected

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) called for Congress to take action to strengthen cosmetic product regulation today after releasing a letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing a troubling overview of the sharp increase in the number of imported cosmetic products that arrive in the U.S. each year that may pose a risk to consumers.  The letter comes in response to a letter Pallone sent FDA last December requesting information about cosmetic imports, including the number and kinds of personal care products imported each year, the number of imported products subject to inspections, and the number of contaminated products intercepted each year. 

FDA responded with answers, including the following numbers from Fiscal Year (FY) 2016:

  • 2.9 million lines of cosmetic products arrived in U.S. ports.
  • Of which only 9,871 received a physical examination by FDA inspectors, a rate well under one percent.
  • And of the examined products, 1,474 had adverse findings – a rate of 15 percent. 
  • A number of those cosmetic imports were sampled and tested within FDA laboratories.  Of the 364 subjected to laboratory testing, 73 resulted in adverse findings, a rate of 20 percent.  According to FDA, the principal reasons for adverse findings were the presence of illegal color additives and microbial contamination.  

FDA also states that cosmetic product imports have doubled over the last ten years.  Over the last five years, according to FDA, China has increased its exports to the U.S. by 79 percent.   

“The fact that less than one percent of cosmetics imported into this country are physically examined is startling, and should serve as a wake-up call to Congress to act,” Pallone said.  “Congress must give FDA the authority and resources necessary to ensure the safety of cosmetics and personal care products, whether they are produced domestically or abroad.” 

Pallone believes the provisions to strengthen cosmetic product regulation should be considered as a part of a proposal to create a new user fee program for over-the-counter drug products that is being developed by FDA, industry, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee.  Last year, Pallone released a bipartisan proposal to better regulate cosmetic products.

FDA’s letter on cosmetics is available here.

Pallone’s letter to FDA is available here