Image_of_freshly_prepared_chateaubriand_steak_in_the_traditional_style (1)Will food additives and cosmetic ingredients be safer this year?

In my first book  Poisons in Your Food  published by Crown in 1969 and in my second book, the First Edition of A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives in 1989 I pointed out  antibiotics were added to  feed and hormones were given to animals—to increase weight per pound. The Food Additives book is now in its Seventh Revised Edition and these additives are still being used in 2014. Currently, up to 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy food animals, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit think tank.2578001

The FDA has made an effort since the1970s to try and get antibiotics out of animal feed because  reports of antibiotic resistance in human patients are believed to be largely due to antibiotic- laced animals.

In 1988, the European Community put a ban on the import of US beef because of the use of hormones in beef and poultry. The environmentalists reported these additives given for promotion of growth potentially enhance the development of certain cancers; affect male fertility, interfere with some genes and cause other problems in humans. Hormones are still being used in cattle, chickens, turkeys, pigs, lambs, and goats.

Will the promise of stricter control of the use of antibiotics and hormones use be fulfilled in 2014?

The lobbies for antibiotic and hormone use in animals are rich and powerful. Criticizing the restrictions are members of a coalition including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, AHI, American Veterinary Medical Association, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Meat Association and the National Turkey Federation.

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), is the primary author of the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act” (H.R. 965), which seeks to ban the use in livestock and poultry production of several classes of antibiotics employed for preventing and controlling diseases and for promoting “nutritional efficiency”.  Introduced in 2011, it has been shuffled off  to other committees and has not been enacted.

In the Spring of 2012, the FDA issued  guidance designed to limit the use of some antibiotics in animal agriculture. Under this new FDA policy, all antibiotics approved for use in animal agriculture will be only for therapeutic purposes, such as disease treatment, control and prevention, and only under licensed veterinarian supervision.

The FDA on its website  now says:

“We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” says William Flynn, DVM, MS, deputy director for science policy at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.

“FDA is issuing a final guidance document that explains how animal pharmaceutical companies can work with the agency to voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indications from the approved uses of their medically important antimicrobial drug products, and move the therapeutic uses of these products from over-the-counter (OTC) availability to marketing status requiring veterinary oversight.”

What are the promises for cosmetic safety?

In the First Edition of A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients also published by Crown in 1984 and now in its Seventh Revised Edition, I pointed out that cosmetics were not subject to oversight by the FDA: That is still true today and even a little more unregulated because the companies may now inform the FDA their product is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).

Rep. Janice D Schakowsky. [D-IL-9] introduced the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 which Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the regulation of cosmetics by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).The bill Requires any brand owner engaged in bringing a cosmetic to market for use in the United States to register annually and pay a fee for oversight and enforcement of this Act.

It Requires the Secretary to:

  • Establish labeling requirements
  • Establish a safety standard that provides a reasonable certainty of no harm from exposure to a cosmetic or an ingredient in a cosmetic and that protects the public from any known or anticipated adverse health effects associated with the cosmetic or ingredient
  • Issue guidance prescribing good manufacturing practices for cosmetics and ingredients.
  • Requires brand owners to submit to the Secretary safety data for the ingredients listed on the cosmetic label and the cosmetic itself, which shall be published in a database.
  • Requires the Secretary to review and evaluate the safety of cosmetics and ingredients of cosmetics that are marketed in interstate commerce, including nanotechnology and contaminants of concern linked to severe acute reactions or long-term adverse health effects.
  • Requires the Secretary, based on an initial review and evaluation, to establish three lists for ingredients: (1) a prohibited and restricted list, (2) a safe without limits list, and (3) a priority assessment list.
  • Authorizes the Secretary to order a recall or cease of distribution for a cosmetic that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise in violation of the FFDCA.
  • Requires reporting of any serious adverse event associated with cosmetics.
  • Requires the Secretary to take action to minimize the use of animal testing of ingredients and cosmetics.
  • Establishes an Interagency Council on Cosmetic Safety.
  • Requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate an occupational safety and health standard relating to

Enactment of legislation sponsored by Rep. Schakowsky and 23 other sponsors would be great but it was sent to another committee and no action has been taken.

The only way new legislation will be enacted and enforced is if you, as a consumer, vote with your money. If you don’t buy products with unwanted additives, manufacturers will comply with your wishes. You already see “antibiotic free” or “hormone free” on some meat and poultry packages in grocery stores. From the farmers to the store executives,all want to market their products to you.

And that’s a promise!

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