Unilever: Go Toxic-Free

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Dev Gowda

Kara Cook-Schultz

More than 50% of Americans said they will celebrate Valentine’s Day. This Valentine’s Day, consumer, public health, and environmental groups are thanking Unilever for its great first step in committing to disclose certain fragrances that it uses in its products, and calling on Unilever, as one of the largest personal care product companies in the world, to phase out chemicals of concern.

Consumers want to know what’s in the products they’re using and Unilever, the manufacturer of popular brands like Dove and Axe, has taken the lead and committed to disclose to the public certain chemicals that make up their fragrance ingredients, but it should take one step further to help protect public health and remove chemicals of concern from its products.

“This Valentine’s Day, don’t give your loved ones an unwanted dose of toxic chemicals,” said Dev Gowda, Toxics Advocate with U.S. PIRG. “Unilever should make a sweet move and remove chemicals of concern such as parabens and PEG compounds from its products. These ingredients have been linked to cancer and other health problems.”

Today, PIRG organizers dropped off more than 25,000 petition signatures to Unilever USA’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, collected by U.S. PIRG, the state PIRGs, Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families calling on Unilever to pledge to go toxic-free. Petition signers also wanted Unilever to fully disclose fragrance ingredients.

The average American is exposed to 100 different chemicals from personal care products before they leave the house in the morning. Consumers should be able to trust that the products they buy are safe — especially those that are used every day, directly on the body. However, when people shampoo their hair or wash their hands, they are often dosing their bodies with chemicals like parabens that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and hormone disruption.

Last month, Target Corp. made a bold move and announced that it will remove chemicals like phthalates, propyl- and butyl-paraben, and formaldehyde donors from personal care products by 2020. U.S. PIRG is urging personal care product manufacturers like Unilever to follow Target’s lead and phase out chemicals of concern and to disclose which chemicals they use in their fragrances.

Last week, Unilever made a giant first step and committed to disclose fragrance ingredients through SmartLabel by 2018 for fragrance ingredients that exceed 100 parts per million. Also, it will list on the label if the product contains a fragrance ingredient that has been classified as an allergen by the European Union. Consumers will be able to look up the fragrance ingredients that a product contains through their smart phone through the SmartLabel while shopping at stores or on their computer at home. Unilever should take the next step and list all fragrance ingredients it uses regardless of the amount contained in products, or if they have been classified as an allergen.

Read U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Personal Care Product Safe Shopping Guide “Getting Personal with Chemicals” which lists common chemicals of concern and their health effects, here.