New product labeling bill introduced

Summer school is over! (Yey!) And now I have more time to devote myself to blogging and twittering…and oh yes, I do have several articles to write.

Yesterday, I saw this news about a new legislation proposed by House Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) requiring household products manufacturers to provide a list of all ingredients on the container or packaging of their products that include cleaners, paints and pesticides.

The Household Product Labeling Act of 2009 (H.R. 3057) will minimize the use of toxic chemicals in these everyday-use products, according to the congressman along with spokespersons from the the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

“We require ingredient labeling for the food we put in our mouths, but not for soap in which we wash our plates. The lack of labeling required for household products is ludicrous, it’s dangerous, and it’s due for a change,” said Rep. Steve Israel.

The consumer advocates groups cited chemicals currently being used in cleaning products that they claimed are household hazards such as surfactants monoethanolamine (MEA)and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs); disinfectant ammonium quatternary compounds; solvents glycol ethers; and phthalates.

The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) expressed their concern on the language of the bill stating that additional detail on the product label, as proposed, could deter consumers from the more important product instructions on safe use and disposal. CSPA also cited the cleaning industry’s new Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative which aims to create a uniform system for providing ingredient information to consumers in a meaningful and easy-to-understand manner.

The voluntary initiative becomes effective in January, 2010 and allows participating companies to provide information on product ingredients on the product label; on the manufacturers’, distributors’, or importers’ website; through a toll-free telephone number; or through some other non-electronic means.

“The labeling under this initiative is largely based upon the labeling conventions in use today in the U.S. for food, drugs and cosmetics that consumers are already familiar with,” said Chris Cathcart, CSPA President. “Although ours is a voluntary program, we are reaching out to environmental and other non-government organizations to pursue public policy based on our initiative.”

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) also pointed out the voluntary labeling program, which it co-developed and being initiated along with CSPA and its Canadian counterpart CCSPA. SDA spokesman Brian Sansoni said (in this article) that the bill is not necessary as the industry is already working on communicating their ingredients to the public via the voluntary initiative.

CSPA said it just launched its Consumer Product Ingredient Dictionary that will standardize and define ingredient nomenclature for companies engaging in the Ingredient Communication Initiative.

“The reality is that one chemical can have several different names due to the differing nomenclature used for various product lines,” Cathcart said. “The dictionary will be useful to consumers because it will help standardize chemical names so that they are more easily understood. The dictionary will also define the ingredient so that every company can determine that it is using the e same ingredient as other companies.”

CSPA is currently accepting ingredient applications for the dictionary from consumer product manufacturers and/or their suppliers.

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