Human health safety evaluation of cosmetics in the EU: A legally imposed challenge to science


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Abstract

As stated in the European legislation, cosmetic products present on the European market must be safe for the consumer. Safety evaluation of the products is carried out by a qualified safety assessor who needs to consider potential exposure scenarios next to the physicochemical and toxicological profiles of all composing ingredients. Whereas, until recently, the tools to determine the toxicological profile of cosmetic ingredients mainly consisted of animal experiments, they have now been narrowed down substantially by the legally imposed animal testing ban on cosmetic ingredients, taken up in the Cosmetic Products Directive (76/768/EEC). This Directive, however, is not a stand-alone piece of European legislation, since as well directly as indirectly it is influenced by a complex web of related legislations. Vertical legislations deal with different categories of chemicals, including dangerous substances, biocides, plant protection products, food additives, medicinal products, and of course also cosmetics. Horizontal legislative texts, on the contrary, cover more general fields such as protection of experimental animals, consumer product safety, misleading of consumers, specific provisions for aerosols, and others. Experience has learnt that having a general overview of these related legislations is necessary to understand their impact on the cosmetic world in general terms and on cosmetic safety evaluation in particular. This goes for a variety of concerned parties, including national and European regulators/agencies, contract laboratories, raw material suppliers, cosmetic companies, research and educational centers. They all deal with a number of aspects important for the quality and toxicity of cosmetics and their ingredients.This review summarises the most relevant points of the legislative texts of different types of product categories and emphasises their impact on the safety evaluation of cosmetics.

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