The safety of cosmetic products used for baby care has been recently questioned in France, when a group of medical scientists and hospital executives blamed certain of their ingredients as potentially toxic.

Last month, the Committee for sustainable development in health (Comité pour le développement durable en santé - C2DS) sparkled a high profile press campaign against certain products in the advertising boxes distributed by maternities, alleging they could be potentially harmful for young children. Mentionning parabens, phenoxyethanol, BHT, or bisphenol-A, the C2DS said that such ingredients, which enter in the formula of many cosmetic products or baby feeding bottles, should not be put into contact with young children.

The C2DS also criticized the French Agency for the Medical Safety of Health Products (AFSSAPS), which is responsible for controlling cosmetic products commercialised in the country, saying the agency was not “fulfilling its job” when only posting “non mandatory” recommendations.

In order to cut short all these polemics, the French agency recalled that several levers can be used to check that cosmetic products marketed in France duly comply with the regulation imposing to assess they are safe for use, in particular inspections and routine controls.

Regarding cosmetic products intended for use with children of less than 3 years of age, the AFSSAPS announced its intention to tighten the controls and inspections that have been performed since its creation. As a first step, these reinforced controls will focus on products distributed in the advertising cases distributed by maternities. However, tightened controls are meant to be applied to all cosmetic products intended for use by children of less than 3 years. The Agency wants to check that producers do comply with the obligation to assess these products with specific methods.

In parallel, the Agency is creating an ad hoc working group that will evaluate the safety assessment methods specifically developed by manufacturers of baby care goods.