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The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last week that alarmed parents here in Pittsburgh and across the country. The warning provided that certain Claire’s makeup products should not be used due to a finding of asbestos in those products. Claire’s is a makeup, jewelry, and hair product boutique that mainly markets its products to children and teenagers. The FDA warning sent parents scrambling to see if any of those products were in their house. What was especially alarming to Pittsburgh product liability attorneys is the fact that Claire’s refused to issue a recall for those products and that is what led to the FDA’s warning.
Refusal to issue a recall
The product testing was conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and AMA analytics, which found asbestos in three of Claire’s products. The FDA then requested that Claire issue a recall for those three products. Claire’s disputed the findings and refused to issue a recall claiming that fibers found in the makeup were mischaracterized as asbestos, but ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ they removed the specific products from their shelves. Apparently that ‘abundance of caution’ does not extend to recalling those products that are already purchased and being used by children and teenagers, however.
FDA’s lack of authority
Claire’s refusal to issue a recall has highlighted the fact that cosmetic products are not required to be reviewed or approved by the FDA and that it has no power or authority to force cosmetic companies to issue a recall. Claire’s highly unusual refusal to comply with their request sparked the FDA to call on Congress to modernize cosmetic safety rules.
FDA’s call to Congress
In its warning statement, the FDA made a pointed reminder that under its current authority, the FDA has limited tools to ensure the safety of cosmetic products. The FDA is creating a registry for cosmetic manufacturers and distributors to provide health and safety information about their products, but the FDA does not have the authority to require that they provide this information. The FDA did receive some congressional support for updating cosmetic safety regulations following the release of their warning statement.
Asbestos in consumer products
Asbestos fibers may get stuck in people’s lungs, hearts, and abdomen. Any amount of asbestos exposure is dangerous and can cause cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos has been found in talc and Claire’s did make a point of removing all talc-based products from their shelves after the FDA’s recall request. It is worth noting again, however, that removing these talc-based products from their shelves is not the same thing as issuing a recall to people who have Claire’s talc-based products already in their homes, being used by their children.
Defective product recalls are not uncommon and they serve to warn people and keep them safe from unexpected product dangers, but when there is no authority to force a cosmetic recall, it is harder to keep people, mainly children in this case, safe from harmful products. If you have sustained injuries caused by a defective product, contact a Pittsburgh product liability attorney at Shenderovich, Shenderovich & Fishman to discuss your claim and injuries sustained.