Thursday, January 17, 2008
Look for the Union Label - Made in the USA update
My daughter has excema. When I put her hair up for dance class I noticed that she has been scratching at her face and neck. I told her that we would stop on the way home from class and buy some lotion for her. On our route we had two options: the Green Earth store that sells organics and homeopathics and Walgreens. I chose Walgreens because I thought a pharmacist might have a suggestion for us, and I decided that I would tell him regardless we needed only USA-made lotion.
Bad choice. The line looked like the wait for Hannah Montana tickets. We set off on our own to find something. Nivea? Love it. Out- made in Mexico. At least that was prominently labelled. Most products just say 'distributed by' which could mean anything.
What's worse is that thanks to our ever declining standards of regulation, in the health and beauty aisle, made in the USA is not necessarily a good thing. That's because just prior to the turn of the century the European Union created a list of banned substances for cosmetics and health items. The United States doesn't follow this list at all, going so far as to sell different formulations for products for sale in Europe as are sold in the United States. European countries can use the US as a dumping ground for inferior products it cannot sell at home. Other countries are following the lead of the Europeans and adopting tougher guidelines. We are being left behind.
The vast majority of chemical compounds used in the ointments, creams, shampoos and cosmetics we douse ourselves with daily have never been tested. Europeans however, have a different mindset than we do. In Europe if a substance is suspect through testing, yet not 100% certain to be toxic, it is banned. In the United States, it has to be clearly shown to be linked to some danger or another. We take a much greater after-the-fact approach. And ironically, some manufacturers claim that Americans are safe because we have such an active torts system. Which at the same time they spend oodles of bucks to undermine through lobbying efforts and tort reform.
So in my own buying decision I still went with the made in the USA claim. Organics are a very good choice and I should have gone to the other organic store. Live and learn.