After relaying the news from Daily Financial that Promise Me by the Susan G. Komen Foundation was bound to be retired due to and hazardous-ingredients issue, we received a response from the foundation, with more information to deny the discontinuation and express their point of view.
Their official position seems to be that while Susan G. Komen's scientists have tested and found nothing endangering with the levels at which the incriminated ingredients are used - there are actually 6 of them detailed after the jump - the foundation want to show that they set the bar high and will therefore change the formulation of the fragrance. But the perfume in its current form will not be retired meanwhile as it reportedy meets FDA guidelines....
The chronology of the events is that last summer, concerns were raised over 4 ingredients to start with. Their scientific and health teams reviewed the ingredients "and it was determined that they were not linked to breast cancer risk in humans, although studies continue." Susan G. Komen then went to TPR Holdings who make their fragrance and the manufacturer agreed to reformulate the perfume.
When I asked what the four ingredients were, Leslie Aun explained that,
"The ingredients questioned early this summer are:
· Benzyl salicylate and coumarin are both found in deodorants and antiperspirants; research to date does not show a link from those products to breast cancer;
· Buteylphenyl Methylpropional – studies have shown that at very high doses this agent may mimic estrogen and increase proliferation of breast cancer cells. FDA studies do not link this agent to cancer at the levels in the perfume; and
· Benzophenone-3 - This is an ingredient in sunscreen which some studies link to cell mutation; again, at the levels in the perfume, this is not considered a risk for breast cancer."
In late September, 2 further ingredients came under scrutiny, Toluene and Galaxolide. The foundation recognizes the fact that there is Galaxolide, but Toluene is apparently a figment of the imagination of the activists who attacked the perfume.
"TPR Holdings and their manufacturer they have assured Komen that there is NO trace of toluene even in the smallest amounts in the fragrance. Galaxolide is found in the fragrance at such a small amount (billionth) that it is perceived to be negligible and is well within the guidelines of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) guidelines."
So the reason why the current perfume can be sold is that it is officially okay to do so, although everybody implicitly recognizes that the standards of safety could be heightened. I pointed out that especially given the context of the rising development of green, all-natural and organic perfumes at an industrial scale, an institution like the Foundation could perhaps be seen to be missing an opportunity to assert strong ethical values.
In conclusion, Leslie Aun said that a recall of the product was not warranted because,
"The last batch of the perfume was manufactured in May of this year; we expect manufacturing and sale of the reformulated product to begin in early 2012. Given our assurances from four independent reviews of the fragrance, we have not asked the manufacturer to recall or remove unsold products."