Natural Foods Merchandiser

Trade group critical of Globalization Act

by Anna Soref

The Food and Drug Administration's Globalization Act could spell the end for many small personal care manufacturers, according to a cosmetics industry trade group. The Indie Beauty Network is lashing out against the proposed legislation, saying that if it were to pass, the act would not only put many companies out of business but also prevent new ones from entering the marketplace.

" [The act] creates an unlevel playing field for small business—the fees and bureaucracy will make it impossible for them to compete," said Donna Marie Coles Johnson, president of Indie Beauty Network in Charlotte, N.C.

A discussion draft of the act, released in April by the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce, was designed to stimulate discussion about how to provide adequate funding and authority for the FDA to ensure the safety of the U.S. food, drug, medical device and cosmetic supply in an increasingly globalized marketplace, according to the CEC. It outlines a fee structure that includes a $2,000 charge for a company to register with the government and a once-a-year ingredient import fee of $10,000. " So if you import one gallon of shea butter from Africa, you pay $10,000 for it," Coles Johnson said.

The act also proposes a hefty amount of paperwork. " It requires that you register every single product you manufacture, with every ingredient and anticipated and unanticipated adverse events. When is a small business going to have time to market their product when they are filling out all this paperwork?" Coles Johnson asked.

Coles Johnson believes the legislation applies more to food and drugs than to cosmetics. " Out of a 69-page report, you don't get to cosmetics until page 61," she said. " And anybody who pays attention knows that food and drugs are a far greater risk to consumers."

The act could also affect retailers' buying options, according to experts. " This legislation will sap innovation and affect what goes on the shelf," said Darrin Duber-Smith, president of Nederland, Colo.-based Green Marketing. " I don't even know if we need legislation. It's not like there was a big recall on this stuff, or contamination. It's not very entrepreneurial; it's un-American."

Rather than set up a lengthy bureaucratic process of registering individual products, Duber-Smith suggested the government work with the Natural Products Association, the Society of Cosmetic Chemists or other associations to establish lists of acceptable ingredients and processes. " It would be all about ingredient disclosure, with lists of ingredients that are acceptable or not," he said.

The next step for the Globalization Act is the release of an edited discussion draft or introduction of a Congressional bill, according to Coles Johnson.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 8/p. 1, 11

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