The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) has recently recalled three cosmetic products after a product safety survey indicated that the products contained dangerous levels of microbial contamination. Microbial contamination can cause diseases and serious infections.
The ACCC’s survey tested 115 cosmetic products sold in both physical stores and by online retailers, against internationally-set recommended limits. The recalled cosmetic products were: Nude by Nature Liquid Mineral Foundation, Australian Lavender Essentials Eye Cream and Australian Lavender Essentials Face Up, the Essential Moisturiser.
No penalties were imposed as the ACCC and the suppliers negotiated recalls of the contaminated products. However, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard reminded suppliers that “consumers should be able to rely on the safety of products.”
What does this mean for direct sellers?
Under the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL), the Minister and the ACCC have the power to issue a recall notice if a product presents a safety risk, or is non-compliant with a mandatory safety standard or imposed ban. Whilst there is currently no mandatory safety standard in relation to cosmetics, there is a mandatory standard for ingredients labelling on cosmetics with which any company selling cosmetics in Australia must comply.
If the selling company fails or refuses to comply with the recall notice issued by the ACCC, an offence is committed under the ACL and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). It is also an offence if the selling company continues to supply the goods that are the subject of the recall notice. In these circumstances, a monetary penalty of up to $1.1 million for a company may be imposed.
It is therefore essential that direct selling companies who manufacture, distribute and sell cosmetic products are able to ensure confidently themselves that they undertake hygienic manufacturing practices and only use effective and safe preservatives in their products.