The Food and Drug Administration confirmed Tuesday that Claire’s and Justice, two retailers aimed at tweens and teenagers, carried makeup products that contained asbestos.
The FDA released test results that revealed that three powdered makeup products from Claire’s and one from Justice contained asbestos, a mineral fiber that once was commonly used in building construction materials. Exposure to asbestos fibers and particles may cause lung disease.
Talcum powder, which was often used to make baby powder and powder-based makeup products, is made from a mineral known as talc, which may contain some asbestos in its natural form.
The four Claire’s talc-based products that tested positive for asbestos include Claire’s Eye Shadows ― Batch No/Lot No: 08/17; Claire’s Compact Powder ― Batch No/Lot No: 07/15; and Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17.
One product from Justice tested positive for asbestos, though the retailer had already recalled that product and seven others in 2017.
In its announcement, the FDA, which regulates cosmetics in the U.S., claimed that Claire’s “refused to comply” with its request for the company to recall the three items that tested positive for asbestos and warned consumers against using the products.
“Claire’s has refused to comply with the FDA’s request, and the agency does not have authority to mandate a recall,” the agency said.
Claire’s refuted the FDA’s claim, accusing the FDA of faulty testing and maintaining that its products were safe in a statement to HuffPost. However, the company said it has removed the products identified by the FDA from its stores “out of an abundance of caution.”
Melanie Berry, a spokeswoman for Claire’s, also said that the company had removed “any remaining talc-based cosmetic products” and would honor any returns for such products.
Claire’s filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 as sales performance at malls dwindled as online shopping rose. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings protect Claire’s from being sued by consumers for the asbestos contamination, according to USA Today.
In response to the FDA’s announcement, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said he was pushing for new legislation that would update regulations for cosmetic and personal care products and allow the FDA to make recalls in those industries as it does for food products.
“Examples like Claire’s refusal to voluntarily recall their asbestos-tainted products demonstrates the need to modernize the current regulatory framework for cosmetic and personal care products to ensure that FDA can act to protect consumers when industry fails to do so,” Pallone said in a statement.
The FDA said it first became aware of reports of asbestos in products at Claire’s and Justice in 2017. The first asbestos testing was done by third-party laboratories, which the agency reconfirmed with other independent tests. The follow-up tests wrapped up in late February.
Berry said in Claire’s official statement that the FDA’s most recent test results “show significant errors.”
“Specifically, the FDA test reports have mis-characterized fibers in the products as asbestos, in direct contradiction to established EPA and USP criterion for classifying asbestos fibers,” Berry said. “Despite our efforts to discuss these issues with the FDA, they insisted on moving forward with their release.”
The FDA on Tuesday urged cosmetic companies to be transparent about what procedures they use to determine whether their products are safe “and, in particular, about how they ensure that talc used in any cosmetic product is free from asbestos.”
Claire’s said it was disappointed in the FDA for making an announcement that it deemed a mischaracterization of asbestos contamination in its products.
“We are disappointed that the FDA has taken this step, and we will continue to work with them to demonstrate the safety of our products,” Berry said.