Congratulations on the Recall - When marketing makes products less safe

PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
I just read that Henkle has had to recall their organic, vegan product line N.A.E.
https://cosmeticobs.com/en/articles/recalls-of-products-rapex-27/recall-of-nae-products-by-henkel-france-4652/

They launched with much fanfare only a couple months ago.
https://uk.fashionnetwork.com/news/Henkel-launches-organic-vegan-beauty-brand-N-A-E-,1040754.html#.XGLHe-JKh24

That's what happens when you launch a product, pack it with "natural" materials, then use an inadequate, unproven preservative system. Organic acid might work in some cases but clearly they pale in comparison to the effectiveness of parabens, formaldehyde donors and other traditional, proven cosmetic preservative systems.

I can only hope this will lead to more companies to rethink their preservation strategy.

Making products less safe should not be a marketing position.

Comments

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    What a blunder! ... What preservative were they trying to use and did they follow a hurdle technology approach?
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • sodium benzoate / potassium sorbate
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Organic, vegan... not good enough! It also should be palm free, ‘natural’ and handmade 😂
    Belinda Carli of the instutute of personal care science posted a video recently on how to formulate organic, vegan and palmfree product. That’s a challenge!
  • There's clearly an issue with the preservative system in these products, but parabens and formaldehyde donors are not an acceptable answer here. The latter are banned in the EU, and while a few of the former are allowed in restricted quantities the market by and large won't accept them. 

    It's not just marketing; these products were attempting to reach a market segment. Many consumers in France and Scandinavia looking for vegan and organic products will go elsewhere if they see parabens listed on the label.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    So the problem was that they apparently did not include a bacteriocide and may well not have used a hurdle technology approach to preservation.  Pity, because there are a variety of ECOCert preservative options that they could have used to bolster their preservation.

    If there are parabens or formaldehyde donors on the label they never would have gotten Organic certification which defeats the whole purpose of their product line.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • From what I see in the ingredients list, for instance the face cream: it's a pretty standard sort of veggie-oil O/W, but I don't see any evidence of hurdle tech and the package looks like a bog standard 2 oz wide mouth pot. If they've got the pH at 5 or less then the benzoate will stop mould, no problem, but it lacks bactericidal ability in some respects. 
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    I haven't been able to locate the LOI on their products, but the recall clearly indicates that the problem was bacterial contamination.  Should be an easy fix, but they should have known that from the get-go.

    That's the problem with having to follow Organic certification standards that were designed for food products and agriculture, not cosmetics, unless they were following ECOCert, but still, even within the ECOCert framework, there a a variety of other preservative options that are effective.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited February 13
    @Window - You are mistaken about formaldehyde donors being banned in the EU.  They aren't.  The ban applies to formaldehyde & methylene glycol. Things like DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, etc. are perfectly fine. http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/pdf/COSING_Annex V_v2.pdf

    And the EU banned 5 parabens, which also happen to be 5 parabens that nobody really used in cosmetics. The primary parabens used in cosmetics have not been banned or even restricted more than they ever were. 

    @MarkBroussard - You can see their ingredient lists here.
    http://www.nae-erboristeria.com/en/home.html

    This just seems to me a case of marketing decisions (to go after organic / vegan consumers) are taking precedent  over product safety.  Alternative preservatives they have to use to meet the marketing positioning do not have nearly the safe & effective track record of standard preservatives.  


  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited February 13
    There’s one utterly surprising thing. I understand your point   @Window that market at large won’t accept it. However, look at LOI of any luxury product. Any of those outrageously overpriced products: chanel, dior, la prairie, guerlain, shiseido, la mer, SK-II. I analyzed hundreds of those and all I see: silicones, mineral oil, esters, petrolatum and parabens. Yet there are enough people who are ready to pay hundreds of dollars for 50ml jars of these moisturizers.
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited February 13
    Also is there any serious research indicating that formaldehyde donors are not safe? I ordered germall powder recently and the supplier specifies that it’s banned in the EU (they probably didn’t go into details and just said it’s banned). 
  • SibechSibech Member, Professional Chemist
    edited February 13
    @ngarayeva001 It (Germall Powder) is banned in products for children under 3 y.o. (except shower gel and shampoo-type rinse-off products), lip/oral products and leave-on products used on a large part of the body (eg body lotion). The limitation is because of iodoproponyl butylcarbamate and not Diazolinidyl Urea.

    @Perry You'd think they at least performed a preservation challenge test and should have realised earlier in a scale-up or similar.
    Dabbling Formulator — Qualified Cosmetic Safety Assessor — experienced in claim substantiation & EU regulatory affairs.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    edited February 13
    Thanks @Perry:

    Yes, they were following the Cosmos standard.  The problem is that the product is not sufficiently preserved ... they covered yeast & mold, but not bacteria.  

    Agree @Sibech ... they should have caught this issue at the product development stage.  I suspect the issue here is that the company is not terribly experienced at formulating natural/organic products and were not diligent in preservative challenge testing.  I think I recall reading that the bacterial contamination was from a strain that is not one of the standard bacteria tested for in PCT.  Regardless, it still should caught early on.

    Funny thing is ... there is a growing trend of having LOI's that do not have "chemical sounding names" ... to the uninitiated if their labeling did not have Certified Organic on it, most consumers would think these products contain synthetics.

    @Perry:  I think the problem here is not primarily a marketing problem.  Their marketing decision was:  Let's develop a certified organic, vegan skin care line with an Italian theme.  That's the marketing decision.  

    Given that challenge, R&D decided upon COSMOS as the organic certification standard they were going to follow.  

    Therein lies the problem ... in order to get the Cosmos organic certification you are quite restricted in the ingredients that you can use to comply with the standard to get certified.  

    So, from my perspective, the safety issue is more driven by organic certification standards that do not allow for a sufficiently large option of acceptable ingredients to properly preserve a cosmetic product (although, there are ... the company simply made a bad R&D decision by not including a bactericidal preservative ingredient).  The issue us much more the organic standards than it is marketing.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Thank @Sibech, this’s very useful information. I thought the restrictions are because of Diazolinidyl Urea.
  • @Perry - You are right; I was mistaken. It's been a long time since any of my clients has allowed any of these in their products, but it's still important to remember that they're legal. I was confused, and I'm grateful for the correction.

    @ngarayeva001 - My understanding is that the luxury market is much more about the brand name than anything else. And as such Henkel does not have access to that market. To be clear, I did not mean to imply that there was no market for products with parabens, et al. In fact I'd guess most of the overall personal care market is not terribly interested in looking at the LOI.

    There is a market for vegan and/or organic and/or "natural" products. These NAE products appear to be priced cheaply enough - from what I've seen they retail for around 6 € for 200-300 mL bottles - that they could do very well at capturing that market.

    Assuming the product can stay on the shelves, of course! Having to recall lots from 40% of your new product line is a bad sign. But it could also be an unrelated issue and at any rate I don't take it as a sign that everyone should ignore that market.


  • smcsmc Member
    challenge testing and contamination testing - I saw this mentioned in a thread...maybe this one?  Question.  

     microbial challenge testing and contamination testing.

    Can you say more about the contamination testing and what kind of tools/testing products a formulation lab should have in house vs outsource?  I'm assuming the microbial challenge test would need to be done a vendor who specializes in this?

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited February 18
    blimey!
    as Henkel are a major brander, this is a huge balls-up on somebody's part

    preservatives notwithstanding, this could just as well be down to inadequate hygiene and sterilisation on site as anything else; I used to work at a factory which had had an infamous contamination incident a few months before I'd started, and although the contaminated products had passed challenge tests with flying colours, they were very prone to B. cepacia contamination

    Perry said:
    @Window - You are mistaken about formaldehyde donors being banned in the EU.  They aren't.  The ban applies to formaldehyde & methylene glycol. Things like DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, etc. are perfectly fine. http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/pdf/COSING_Annex V_v2.pdf
    in fact, according to Annex V/5 it's still perfectly legal to use formaldehyde as a preservative, at up to 0.1% in oral care and 0.2% in anything else apart from aerosols; this is simply because there is no evidence it's harmful at those levels, and the SCCS makes the legislature exceptionally resistant to lobbying

    however, in practise no-one actually uses it because given the bad press it's had, it'd be commercial suicide to do so (it's also terrible for turning products yellow or brown)



    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Bill_Toge - interesting.  There was a famous hair care brand in the Chicago area who used Kathon in every formula they had because it was the only thing that would kill an in-house microbe that had created a biofilm on their filling equipment. 

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @smc - I think the thread you are looking for is here.
    https://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/discussion/comment/27511#Comment_27511

    But perhaps you could start a new conversation about the topic.

Sign In or Register to comment.