Federal Lawmaker Demands Hearing On New Powers for FDA

Published September 20, 2016

A Congressman is calling on lawmakers in the U.S. House to consider giving a federal agency more regulatory power over health and beauty products sold to consumers.

In August, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, demanding congressional hearings to examine whether the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), a federal agency whose mission statement includes “assuring the safety, efficacy and security of […] cosmetics” should have even more power over how cosmetics are sold to consumers.

Regulatory Powers Already In Place
Daren Bakst, an agricultural policy research fellow with The Heritage Foundation, says FDA already has the power to restrict consumer cosmetics sales.

“The FDA already has had power to regulate cosmetics under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act), which prohibits companies from selling products that are misbranded or adulterated,” Bakst said. “FDA also regulates cosmetics through the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. This law requires companies to list ingredients for retail products. A failure to do so is considered to be a violation of the FD&C Act, because the product will be deemed to be misbranded.”

Bakst says lawmakers shouldn’t pile new regulations on top of older regulations that still work.

“Much is made of the fact that the current regulatory structure hasn’t changed much since 1938,” Bakst said. “However, this is alone isn’t a basis for action or a hearing,” Bakst said. “Those calling for a hearing or significant reforms often just assume that the only way to ensure safety is through even more federal regulation.”

Subjecting Consumers to ‘Political Whim’
Angela Logomasini, a senior fellow with Competitive Enterprise Institute, says giving FDA even more power won’t benefit consumers.

“Empowering FDA will make cosmetics regulation subject to political whim rather than scientific rigor, will impose expensive red tape, and may deprive consumers’ access to valuable products,” Logomasini said. “For example, activist groups are going after many useful preservatives used in cosmetics, without scientific basis. Political action may lead to bans of such products, which means consumers may suffer from defective products, which can have health implications.”