[Ip-health] Corporations' 'Trade Secrets' Trump Public Health
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sat Feb 1 05:19:05 PST 2014
Published on Friday, January 31, 2014 by Common Dreams
Corporations' 'Trade Secrets' Trump Public Health
New database created to let consumers know if personal care
products contain carcinogens, but 'trade secrets' claim lets
companies skirt transparency
- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Corporate power seems to be thwarting the public's right to know if the
personal care products they use contain potentially harmful ingredients.
Selsun Blue is one of the products that lists trade secret for an
ingredient. (Photo: Retoxx/cc/flickr) As a result of the California Safe
Cosmetics Act, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) earlier
this month rolled out a searchable database
<http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/01/14-9> through which
consumers could see if their personal care products contain carcinogens
or reproductive toxins.
Yet an analysis of the database conducted by Women's Voices for the
Earth <http://www.womensvoices.org>, an organization working to
eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm public health and communities,
revealed this week that 22 companies
are requesting trade secret status for nearly 1,500 products, exploiting
a loophole that allows them to keep the ingredients hidden from consumers.
Consumers searching the database may see "trade secret" listed for an
ingredient instead of a chemical, thereby preventing full disclosure.
One egregious example the analysis found was make-up and fragrance maker
Shiseido, which claimed trade secret status on ingredients in almost 400
of their products. Indeed, if a user searches "trade secret" on the
database, pages upon pages of Shiseido products appear.
Among the companies using the trade secret status are well-known names
like the Colgate-Palmolive Company and the Dial Corporation, as well as
the CHI Organics brand.
"Trade secret status should never be allowed to conceal harmful
chemicals such as carcinogens or reproductive toxins from consumers,"
said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women's Voices for the Earth.
"We understand and respect the need for companies to have trade secret
protections for the few select chemicals needed to a product's
competitive advantage, but we do not believe that these business needs
should ever trump public health," Switalski said.
The organization is urging consumers who use products made by the 22
to call them to ask why they are keeping this information from consumers.
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