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FDA warns customers of cancer-causing asbestos in certain Claire's makeup after company refuses recall

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 06/03/2019 Katy Clifton
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US regulators have warned people not to use certain makeup products from Claire's after samples tested positive for cancer-causing asbestos.

The company has disputed the findings and refused to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request for a recall.

The FDA does not have the power to force a recall and issued its warning on Tuesday as a result. It said it was not aware of anyone being made ill by the makeup.

It said the three products people shouldn't use are Claire's Eye Shadows, batch/lot No: 08/17; Claire's Compact Powder, batch/lot No.: 07/15; and Claire's Contour Palette, batch/lot No.: 04/17.

The Food and Drug Administration said these Claire's cosmetics products tested positive for asbestos (FDA) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The Food and Drug Administration said these Claire's cosmetics products tested positive for asbestos (FDA)

In a statement, Claire's noted that it removed the three products identified by the FDA from its stores "out of an abundance of caution," and that it's also removing any remaining talc-based cosmetics.

But the company said the FDA's results mischaracterise fibres as asbestos. It said it tried to discuss the matter with the FDA, but the agency moved ahead with its warning.

The US regulator conducted the tests after learning of reports of asbestos in products sold by retailers Claire's and Justice in 2017. A Justice representative noted that it quickly recalled products at the time.

Justice said one set of its tests showed no evidence of asbestos, while a second round of testing showed trace amounts. Claire's removed products from stores but didn't issue a recall.

The FDA said on Tuesday that its tests, conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and AMA Analytical Services, confirmed asbestos in three Claire's products and one Justice product.

Their statement said: “Because the 2017 testing was done by third-party laboratories, the agency believed it was important to scientifically confirm that these reports were accurate.

“That’s why after Claire’s withdrew and Justice recalled suspect products from the market, the FDA began the process of conducting independent tests to determine if some of these products did in fact contain asbestos.

“Those tests confirmed the presence of asbestos in three of the product samples collected from Claire’s and one of the product samples collected from Justice.

“The FDA requested that Claire’s recall the products because they should not be used by consumers. Claire’s has refused to comply with the FDA’s request.”

Asbestos fibres can get stuck in the lungs and it can cause cancer, but the greatest risk is to people with frequent, long term exposure.

Cosmetics do not have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA. On Tuesday, the agency said it plans to collect information on how companies ensure the talc they use is free from asbestos.

The FDA also asked companies to register their products and ingredient lists on its website, but noted that doing so is not required.

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