The Natural Cosmetics Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 5, would clarify the terms “Natural” and “naturally derived” when used to market cosmetics and personal care products in an effort to provide more transparency with ingredients used in the products and to better ensure consumer safety.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Grace Meng, aims to require cosmetics and personal care products manufacturers to show their products contain at least 70 percent natural substances, excluding water, if they want to use the term “natural.”

“To maintain accountability the bill requires suppliers to conduct Carbon-14 testing which they must submit to manufacturers,” according to a media release on Rep. Maloney’s website.

The bill also gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to “issue a cease distribution order, public notice on the FDA website, and voluntary recall authority of any product deemed misbranded under this act,” the release states.

Many manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products claim their products are “natural” or “naturally derived” to make consumers think that their products are safer. But buyer beware. This is not always the case.

For example, the ingredients listing on bottles of Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder says it contains talc, fragrance and “naturally-derived ingredients.” Technically, this is true. Talc is a mineral that is mined from the earth.

But talc is mined in the same fashion and, at times, in the same proximity as asbestos, a known carcinogen. Talc can be contaminated with asbestos as well as heavy metals, which can be hazardous to human health.

Johnson & Johnson faces more than 14,000 lawsuits that claim its talc can cause cancers like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson has consistently claimed its products are safe. However, last month, Johnson & Johnson recalled about 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder because testing by the FDA revealed it was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

Beasley Allen lawyers Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell are heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma; as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.

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