Centre for Science says natural claims are not always safer

By Michelle Yeomans contact

- Last updated on GMT

Centre for Science says natural claims are not always safer
According to a survey from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a lack of regulation in India means a ‘herbal’ claim on a cosmetic product might not always mean natural or safe.

Herbal remedies have long played an important tradition in many Asian cultures, and many of the most important herbs are being used as extracts in highly sophisticated novel active ingredients.

They have long been an integral part of medicines and beauty routines in many Asian countries, particularly India, Japan and China.

Right now Chinese and Indian Ayurveda herbs are proving increasingly popular, yet it is some of these herbal based best selling products that CSE says have been found to contain synthetics or harmful chemicals.

"Synthetic formulations containing a herb or two being passed off a 'natural or safe' image​," the Centre stated.

Adding; "a product that says it's '100% natural' may be misleading in the sense that it's difficult to stabilize a fully natural base, though not impossible, and is also quite expensive, requiring advanced technology."

Regulatory standards in India

The Indian herbal cosmetics segment is still in its early stages, which industry analysts say has in turn affected the standardization process, in that it is not stringent enough.

The claim substantiation process which states that a product is 'natural', needs to be regulated more strictly by the FDA like in western countries as some manufacturers of herbal products have been found to include synthetic base ingredients when balancing a formulation.

That, added with a long-drawn litigation process in India where a litigant would have to go through for redress, consumers generally tend not to pursue legal action against manufacturers/distributors.

However, with an increase in consumer forums and more effective laws protecting the interests of consumers, regional publications like The Times of India report this trend to be moving in the other direction, slowly but surely.

Promoting the responsible trade in herbal products and improving the service to consumers are the twin goals behind new guidance policies on microorganisms and mycotoxins and heavy metals from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the publication reports.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, South Asia

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