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French Health Bureau born organic cosmetics

11 March 2009 1,310 views No Comment

The French Agency for the Medical Safety of Health Products (AFSSAPS) and the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) recently published results of a joint market survey targeting “preservative free” and certified organic cosmetics.
Nation-wide survey
The survey was conducted last year over 30 product samples corresponding to 28 different products gathered from the whole French territory by AFSSAPS and DGCCRF inspectors.

22 out of the 28 products were certified organic or natural products (Ecocert, Visagro, ICEA-AIAB, BDIH), while 6 were only labelled as “natural / organic product”. Furthermore, 12 products claimed to be preservative free and 16 claimed to be paraben free and / or phenoxyethanol free. The later were using other preservatives such as benzoic or sorbic acid, benzoic alcohol and dehydroacetic acid.

Good microbial quality
Eventually, despite a restrictive use of preservatives, the Agency deems the microbial quality of tested products is “satisfactory”. Nevertheless, batches of a product contaminated with pseudomonas putida bacteria have been withdrawn from the market. Another product was notified a lack of microbial protection that could lead to a contamination during its foreseeable period of use.

Traces of preservatives
The most surprising results came from the chemical analysis of the products. Indeed, tests revealed that 6 products claiming to be “paraben and / or phenoxyethanol free” contained traces of methylparaben at a concentration varying from 0.01 to 0.04%. Another product, claiming to be preservative free contained traces of benzoic or sorbic acid salts.

However, according to the Agency “concentrations detected are 20 to 60 times lower than the maximum limits permitted by the regulation.” Actually, the presence of these traces could result from their use in the raw materials, in particular in ingredients from botanical origin. Concerned companies would not have deliberately misled consumers buy would have failed to correctly control their supply chain.

Misleading labelling
In parallel, the DGCCRF has warned manufacturers that highlighting the absence of a specific preservative in the product’s formula, while the product would contain other types of anti-bacterial agents could be considered as misleading for the consumer. “Providing consumers with information that is voluntarily incomplete, might be considered as misleading about the actual product’s formula,” states the control body in a release.

Vincent Gallon

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