Much needed reform to the regulation of cosmetics in Australia was permitted by changes during the year to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989.

 

This allowed the introduction of a new Australian Cosmetics Standard, which sets requirements for certain cosmetic product categories formerly regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

 

These categories include face and nail products (including products intended for the lips and that contain sunscreen), moisturising and sunbathing products that contain sunscreen, antibacterial skin products, anti-acne products, oral hygiene products and anti-dandruff products.

 

In its preparations for introduction of the reforms, NICNAS was committed to seamless regulation of cosmetics by the involved agencies (NICNAS, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

 

It also concentrated on providing the cosmetics industry with information and training on the new requirements.

 

The new NICNAS Cosmetics Guideline provided plain English information about the new legislative requirements and applies to all cosmetics. A questions and answers document dealt with common queries, while telephone and email advice was provided to more than 600 callers.

 

Prior to introduction of the new standard, the industry was provided from February 2006 with early access to the outcomes of the cosmetics reforms (pending amendment to the legislation) via individual written agreements with NICNASís Director on a product-by-product basis.

 

These individual agreements were enforceable through a permit system and required such information as product composition, introduction volume, and the status of chemical ingredients listed on NICNASís Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances.

 

A total of 206 permits for individual products were issued to 46 companies. All of these permits, issued before February 2007 and revoked in the following November after the passing of the legislation, were audited by NICNAS to assess compliance and to help industry refine its working knowledge of cosmetics regulation.

 

The audit results were:

 

Cosmetics industry compliance

 

Number of audits completed

Number of companies participated

Fully compliant on initial review

Fully compliant following advice provided by NICNAS

Unresolved

Permits initially revoked

206

46

117

85

3

1

 

The 85 initially non-compliant permits became compliant after further information was provided. Issues for the remaining three continue to be addressed.

 

The issues of initial non-compliance of permits were:

 

Issues for initial non-compliance

 

Exceeds permit volume

Annual reporting conditions

Ingredient discrepancy

Labelling/advertising materials issues

New Chemicals issues

18

1

55

9

2

 

Overall there was a high level of compliance.

 

Unresolved issues were managed in accordance with NICNASís enforcement policy. Cosmetics auditing will be incorporated into future compliance work plans.

 

In addition to general NICNAS obligations, specific training that highlighted the changes to cosmetics regulation was provided to 168 participants.

 

This training, held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, also included information on the definition of a cosmetic, the Cosmetics Standard, and the general NICNAS obligations applying to cosmetic importers and manufacturers.

 

Issues identified as a result of the audit process have been incorporated in the Cosmetics training package.

 

A Cosmetics Interface Working Group was established during the year to assist continuing consultation on the regulation of cosmetics products, and a process for resolving compliance issues.

 

Comprising representatives of NICNAS, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the group provides a mechanism for the three Australian Government agencies with a role in cosmetics regulation to ensure seamless regulation.

 

A number of cosmetic issues were referred to the group when the issues were technical or required input for more than one agency.

 

In addition to these, NICNAS received 23 complaints from the cosmetics industry or other agencies during the period. In summary:

 

Cosmetics complaints by category

 

Category

Description

Number received

Number resolved

1

Advice given to complainant about cosmetics legislation

6

6

2

Contains ingredient in S2, 3, 4, or 8 of SUSDP- send to TGA*

2

2

3

Therapeutic claims label/advert, change required or register with TGA

11

8

4

Not all ingredients/warning statements disclosed on label

3

3

5

Referral to State Health

1

1

 

Total

23

20

 

 

Implementation of the final cosmetic reforms is progressing.

 

These include transfer of some substances currently on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods to the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (to allow the chemicals to be used as industrial chemicals), the establishment of a Cosmetics Advisory Group to assist ongoing consultation on the regulation of cosmetics products and establishment of a process for resolving compliance issues.

 

It is anticipated that most of the remaining elements of the reforms will be implemented in 2008-09.