Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) are seeking to restrict the hundreds of home businesses in the United States that produce home-made soap – a staple of farmer’s markets and small businesses throughout the country. The bipartisan bill, S.1014, is called the “Personal Care Products Safety Act”.
Language in the bill would amend Federal law to require all cosmetics companies to register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and submit a list of the ingredients used in their cosmetics, including soaps. Based on their gross annual sales, these companies must then pay a fee to the Federal government.
The legislation allow the government to interfere with the distribution of a company’s products by suspending the facility’s government registration. The FDA would also review the safety of at least five ingredients each year, says the bill, and “may establish conditions for safe use of an ingredient, including a limit on the amount of the ingredient or a requirement for a warning label. A cosmetic cannot be sold if it contains an ingredient that is not safe, not safe under the recommended conditions of use, or not safe in the amount present in the cosmetic.”
There are approximately 300,000 home soapmakers in the United States who are primarily women. Many of them are in the business to supplement their income from other employment. Many of them sell their products from home, at farmer's and artisan's markets, or on websites such as Etsy or Ebay.
According to a statement on Feinstein’s website, some of the biggest corporations in the world are “stakeholders” that support the bill in concert with the Federal government. Among them are:
Johnson & Johnson (whose brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products);
Procter & Gamble (including brands such as Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, and Ivory);
Revlon (including Revlon, Almay, Mitchum);
Unilever (including Dove, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Pond’s, and Vaseline)
In response, Jeffery Tucker, of Foundation for Economic Education said of the so-called stakeholders, “That’s another way of saying the dominant industrial groups…These companies are the fist within the glove of 'consumer protection.' If they can raise the costs of doing business, driving the small businesses that sell on Etsy out of business, they have a firmer hold on their market share.”
Response from the corporate soap industry included a statement from Darrel Jodrey, who represents Johnson & Johnson to the Federal government. Jodrey said, “We do feel it’s very important that the FDA’s authority in this space bring peace of mind to consumers and at the same time reflect modern science and advancements.”
According to OpenSecrets.org
, the pharmaceutical and beauty products industry contributed a combined amount of $181,350 to Feinstein’s election campaign and associated political action committee (PAC) for 2011 to 2015. During that period, Feinstein raised $10,872,486 from all contributors combined.
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