Consumers should avoid certain Claire's cosmetic products that may contain potentially cancer-causing asbestos because the company has refused to recall the items, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday.
The agency's concern dates back two years, when the FDA first became aware of reports of possible asbestos contamination in some cosmetic products sold by Claire's and Justice retailers. Those initial tests were conducted by third-party laboratories, so the FDA ordered further tests by an independent lab.
In a statement, the agency said that further testing confirmed the presence of asbestos in samples of three cosmetic products from Claire's and one product sample from Justice. The Justice product has been recalled by the company, but Claire's has refused to recall the three products that tested positive for asbestos.
Those products are: 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.
The FDA said it doesn't have the authority to force Claire's to recall the products, which is why it is warning consumers not to use them. The agency also said that consumers and health care providers should report any cosmetic-related problems to the FDA's MedWatch reporting system.
Cosmetics are not required to be approved by the FDA, the agency noted. However, it does have some tools to protect consumers.
For example: "Cosmetics must not be 'adulterated' or 'misbranded,' meaning they must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label, or in the customary or expected way, and they must be properly labeled," explained FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
The FDA also announced new measures, including "working with cosmetics manufacturers and requesting information about what procedures they use to ensure their cosmetics are safe." Specifically, the agency said it will ask manufacturers how "they ensure that talc used in any cosmetic product is free from asbestos."
The FDA stressed that the vast majority of cosmetics that contain talc are not thought to contain asbestos.
"In 2010, we surveyed 34 cosmetic products including body powders, face powders, foundation, eye shadow, blush and samples from four major talc suppliers and found no traces of asbestos contamination using the most sensitive techniques available," Gottlieb noted.
But stepped-up inquiries with cosmetics maker should "help us better identify specific cosmetic products and raw ingredient suppliers that may be more likely to be contaminated," he added.
The FDA is also asking cosmetics companies to register their products and list ingredients, including talc, used in their products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on talc.