Consumer-facing product data for household cleaners is getting a major overhaul due to multiple state regulations mandating radical transparency. At a federal level, household cleaning products are not required to make their ingredient list publicly available. This year, that standard will change for any product sold in the states of New York and California. New York, in particular, is requiring that an unprecedented amount of information about household cleaning products be available for consumers online.
Not only will brands have to disclose information about their “intentionally-added” ingredients, but they will also be required to provide consumers with insight into the by-products and contaminants that may be present in formulations. These “unintentionally added” ingredients may be present in the raw materials used to create the product or may have developed during the manufacturing process. In addition to a list of ingredients, brands will also have to disclose the function for each ingredient, the Chemical Abstracts Service registry number*, and whether or not that ingredient is present on a designated list of chemicals of concern.
Brands affected by these upcoming regulations are anxious to provide this information to consumers in a way that is meaningful and easy to understand by developing pages on their own websites or by utilizing platforms like SmartLabel®. Many Label Insight customers have had success with utilizing SmartLabel® to disclose off-package information, such as Unilever who recently made the bold decision to disclose all of their fragrance ingredients online. It is not required for brands to disclose fragrance ingredients in cosmetic products because they are considered trade secret information. However, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the components of fragrance blends - primarily because of the potential for certain fragrances to cause allergic reactions. We have been proud to partner with Unilever to make digital disclosure of fragrance ingredients a reality.
Even beyond the challenge of website development, brands are finding it challenging to simply access and organize much of the information they need. They are having to develop closer partnerships with their ingredient suppliers to gather information around contaminants that may be present. In some cases, they are having to petition their fragrance houses for information about formulations which are considered highly proprietary. One additional requirement for regulatory compliance is that research about the effects of the product on human health and the environment will need to be available to consumers. However, many of these studies have been published in scientific journals which require a subscription to view. These challenges and many more have popped up in the path of brands and manufacturers of household cleaning products, and there are no easy answers.
Label Insight continues to work closely with our customers who have household cleaners in their portfolios to help smooth over roadblocks and ensure seamless regulatory compliance. Learning from our partnerships, we are adding a new process to our already best-in-class SmartLabel® solution, which will give brands a tailor-made platform for digital disclosure. We will utilize a specialty off-package ingestion template so that all of the required information can be quickly and accurately integrated onto SmartLabel® pages. Despite the challenges associated with this process, the cleaning product industry is excited to be able to offer a greater level of transparency, and is hopeful that providing in-depth product data will allow consumers to make highly-educated purchasing decisions that are right for themselves and their families.
*CAS numbers are a unique numeric identifier to designate a single chemical, which can be used to find information about a specified ingredient.
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About Anna Thibaut
Anna Thibaut is the Sr. Solutions Consultant for Product Data Management at Label Insight and a former production chemist with a BS Chemistry from University of Missouri. Anna is a Licensed Cosmetologist and Esthetician with 8 years of experience as a beauty advisor in a retail cosmetics environment.