[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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