What is in this article?:
- SN Whole Health: Spring 2013 News
- Labeling: Next Steps
“If consumers occasionally find sour cream or an organic salad dressing with expiration dates of a month earlier pushed to the back of their refrigerator, they know to throw it away. But that isn’t the case with beauty products.”
— Ruth Kinzey, president, The Kinzey Company
Beauty Care Use-By Dates
The growing number of beauty care products containing plant-based extracts or other perishable ingredients have raised new calls for manufacturers to employ use-by dates.
Supporters argue that the same rules that determine the salability of fresh foods should also apply to cosmetics, body lotions and related items.
“If consumers occasionally find sour cream or an organic salad dressing with expiration dates of a month earlier pushed to the back of their refrigerator, they know to throw it away,” said Ruth Kinzey, a former retailer and now president of The Kinzey Company, a consulting firm. “But that isn’t the case with beauty products.”
Sales of color cosmetics reached $8.4 billion in 2012, increasing more than 8% between 2010 and 2012, according to Mintel, which found that only 21% of women who wear makeup stated that they throw products out when they’ve reached their expiration date.
Industry advocates say date coding is not a high priority because the vast majority of products — whether conventional, natural or organic — are proven safe.
“People are using the products every day, sometimes multiple times each day, with no adverse effects,” said Dr. Cara Welch, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association.
Still, the industry could be compelled to act should it become a legislative issue. Date coding is one of several safety- and efficacy-related issues under consideration again this year by Congress, which saw three cosmetic safety-related bills introduced last year.
“Basically, all of them contained the words ‘cosmetics’ and ‘safe’ in the name,” said Welch.
The existing beauty care law was written in 1938, and essentially cedes decisions about ingredient safety to the cosmetics industry. The Food and Drug Administration can’t require cosmetics companies to conduct safety assessments, or require product recalls.
Though the legislation under consideration doesn’t specifically ask for date coding, it calls for full ingredient disclosure on labels — a provision that sets up possible use-by dates if any of those ingredients possess a limited shelf life.
Diabetic and Gluten Free
An ever-increasing number of consumers attribute curative powers to foods free of wheat and grain proteins that go far beyond celiac disease or simple gluten intolerance.
The latest benefits of a gluten-free diet come from the diabetic community, where the journal Diabetologia published a study suggesting that eating gluten-free could help alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Scientists from Denmark concluded in another study that a gluten-free diet may have helped send a 6-year-old boy’s type 1 diabetes into remission.
Findings like this will help propel gluten-free sales to an estimated $7 billion this year, according to market research firm Mintel. Much of that activity will come from the so-called secondary market of shoppers who believe gluten-free diets can help them lose weight or improve the behavior of autistic children.
Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist with the Mayo Clinic, conducted a recent study that found roughly 80% of consumers who eat gluten-free do not have celiac. He cautions patients against eliminating nutrients from their diet without sound medical guidance.
“There are a lot of people on a gluten-free diet, and it’s not clear what the medical need for that is,” said Murray.
Researchers say that the results from studies like those testing the diabetes theory don’t actually indicate that gluten avoidance might be a cure-all. Still, for many of the nearly 2 million consumers who follow a gluten-free diet, it’s proof enough.
Study: Local Beats Organic
Local and organic co-exist peacefully in the produce department and elsewhere around the supermarket, and sometimes are found in a single product. When asked about preferences, however, 68% of shoppers say local food contributes positively to sustainability, while only 50% said they believe that’s true of organic food.
The question, posed in a recent survey of 1,300 U.S. consumers by A.T. Kearney, a global consulting firm, found that people have a clearer perception of “local.” To them, buying local products benefits farmers, freshness and the environment. Organic’s qualities aren’t as clear-cut.
Some 45% of respondents also consider local products healthier alternatives, and factor that into their purchase decisions.