Lately, I have enjoyed fast and furious conversations with IBN members (login required) about non-governmental organizations's efforts to spread unwarranted fear about ingredients used in cosmetics. One of those organizations is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which continues to publish “reports,” which are really thinly veiled scare tactics to support an agenda that seems to include promoting itself as the new FDA.
One of their latest publications places certain products containing active sunscreen ingredients and claiming certain Sun Protection Factors (SPF) on a “Hall Of Shame” list. Also included in the Hall of Shame is the FDA, which regulates cosmetics, and The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Scare tactics of any kind are usually irresponsible and always unhelpful. Let's consider the details here.
EWG's Hall Of Shame slams Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55, saying this:
“Can a product be ‘mild as water to the skin' if the label warns to “Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts”? And certainly when swallowed this product is nothing like water: “Keep out of reach of children” and “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away,” reads the warning label.”
EWG is slamming the targeted product and the company that makes it for placing language on its labels that reminds consumers to keep sunscreen out of the reach of children. I want to keep all kinds of things away from my children, but that doesn't mean those things are undesirable or inferior in and of themselves. And what is wrong with letting parents know that, if a sunscreen product is mistakenly ingested, they shouldn't just panic or sit around whining — they should call for help?!! Of course you should get help if your child eats sunscreen! Duh!
I also noticed that you cannot comment EWG's Hall Of Fame page. You can Tweet and share it on FaceBook, but you cannot share your opinion, ask questions, or disagree with EWG on their turf. Publishing information designed to affect consumer health and important public policy issues in a forum that does not welcome public discussion and comment is arbitrary and capricious. Again, just my opinion.
Another disturbing consideration is the hypocrisy. Many pages at EWG's website remind site visitors of how expensive it is to create reports that unnecessarily scare them. Because it's so expensive to whip you and your friends into an unnecessary tizzy, they invite you not only to donate to the cause, but also to head on over to their Amazon affiliate page to purchase all of the products (including the above-mentioned Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55, available at Amazon), they say are worthy of heir Hall Of Shame. Of course there's a disclaimer that they don't endorse any of the products they earn commissions on, but still, shop 'til you drop, I guess literally, for all those dangerous sunscreens and other cosmetics that can harm you and your family.
If some of the products sold by Amazon are inferior or not to be trusted, then it seems disingenuous to encourage the people you claim to be trying to protect to buy them. This sends a potentially conflicting message to consumers that the products are inferior, but if we get paid when you buy them, it's not so bad after all.
Question: Well, I hardly know what to ask. Just tell me what you think!