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Home > Cosmetics Constituents > Role of FDA
Role of FDA
Functions of FDA

Power of FDA

Cosmetic safety and labeling
The two most important laws pertaining to cosmetics marketed in the United States are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA).

The FD&C Act prohibits the marketing of adulterated or misbranded cosmetics in interstate commerce. Violations of the Act involving product composition--whether they result from ingredients, contaminants, processing, packaging, or shipping and handling--cause cosmetics to be adulterated and subject to regulatory action. Under the FD&C Act, a cosmetic is adulterated if--

"it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to users under the conditions of use prescribed in the labeling thereof, or under conditions of use as are customary and usual" [with an exception made for hair dyes];

"it consists in whole or in part of any filthy putrid, or decomposed substance";

"it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health";

"its container is composed, in whole or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render the contents injurious to health"; or

Except for hair dyes, "it is, or it bears or contains, a color additive which is unsafe within the meaning of section 721(a)" of the FD&C Act. (FD&C Act, sec. 601)

Improperly labeled or deceptively packaged products are considered misbranded and subject to regulatory action. Under the FD&C Act, a cosmetic is considered misbranded if--
"its labeling is false or misleading in any particular";
its label does not include all required information;
the required information is not adequately prominent and conspicuous;
"its container is so made, formed, or filled as to be misleading";
it is a color additive, other than a hair dye, that does not conform to applicable regulations issued under section 721 of the FD&C Act; and
"its packaging or labeling is in violation of an applicable regulation issued pursuant to section 3 or 4 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970." (FD&C Act, sec. 602)

In addition, under the authority of the FPLA, FDA requires an ingredient declaration to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Cosmetics that fail to comply with the FPLA are considered misbranded under the FD&C Act.

It is important to understand that Congress passes the laws that govern the United States. To put those laws into effect, Congress authorizes certain government agencies, including FDA, to create and enforce regulations, but only as authorized under the law. A change in FDA`s statutory authority over cosmetics would require Congress to change the law.

FDA`s approval
FDA`s legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives. However, FDA may pursue enforcement action against violative products, or against firms or individuals who violate the law.

Responsibility
Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing. Failure to adequately substantiate the safety of a cosmetic product or its ingredients prior to marketing causes the product to be misbranded unless the following warning statement appears conspicuously on the principal display panel of the product`s label:
"Warning--The safety of this product has not been determined." (21 CFR 740.10)

In addition, regulations prohibit or restrict the use of several ingredients in cosmetic products and require warning statements on the labels of certain types of cosmetics.

In general, except for color additives and those ingredients which are prohibited or restricted from use in cosmetics by regulation, a manufacturer may use any ingredient in the formulation of a cosmetic provided that the ingredient and the finished cosmetic are safe, the product is properly labeled, and the use of the ingredient does not otherwise cause the cosmetic to be adulterated or misbranded under the laws that FDA enforces.

Inspection
FDA can and does inspect cosmetic manufacturing facilities to assure cosmetic product safety and determine whether cosmetics are adulterated or misbranded under the FD&C Act or FPLA.

Cosmetic test
The FD&C Act does not subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval in order to be marketed legally. However, FDA collects samples for examination and analysis as part of its plant inspections, import inspections, and follow-up to complaints of adverse reactions. FDA may also conduct research on cosmetic products and ingredients to address safety concerns.

The agency does not function as a private testing laboratory, and in order to avoid even the perception of conflict of interest does not recommend private laboratories to consumers or manufacturers for sample analysis. Testing laboratories are listed in your telephone directory.

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