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hypoallergenicThe American Chemical Society released a short video on household products and cosmetics that are labeled “hypoallergenic” and what the term means.  According to the FDA, the term “hypoallergenic” has no scientific evidence to back up the claims made and the term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.  In the 1970’s the FDA wanted products that were “proven” to reduce allergic reactions to carry the wording “hypoallergenic” on the label.  Cosmetic companies, however, fought against this because the tests were too costly, so little has been done to make sure the term hypoallergenic means what it says.

Last year 187 children’s products were tested that carried the term “hypoallergenic”, “dermatologists tested” or “paraben-free” looking at 80 molecules that are known to cause allergic reactions.  The results showed 89% contained at least one chemical known to cause a rash; 11% contained five or more allergens and a different 11% contained methylisothiazolinone (a preservative given the distinction in 2013 as the “allergen of the year”).

Manufacturers still claim they check their products for allergens but apply the term hypoallergenic to the product as a whole rather than to a specific ingredient.  Some companies have become proactive in removing allergen-producing ingredients from their products.  Medical professionals are now calling for the government to regulate the use of the terms “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist recommended” on product labels.

To read more on this topic, click on the following links:

Food & Drug Administration, (2015). “Hypoallergenic cosmetics”. (2015). Food & Drug Administration, retrieved March 25, 2015, from: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/Labeling/Claims/ucm2005203.htm

Howard, J. (2015). Huffington Post, “What does “hypoallergenic” mean? Apparently whatever manufacturers want it to mean, scientists say”. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/20/what-is-hypoallergenic-video_n_6909108.html