FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10.22.15 – In response to consumer demands, two corporate giants have begun increasing the transparency of ingredients in feminine care products, giving women in the US more information than ever before on what’s in tampons and pads. Within a single week, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of feminine care products – Procter and Gamble (makers of Always and Tampax) and Kimberly Clark (makers of U by Kotex) – started to publicly release information regarding the ingredients found in their pads and tampons.
“This is a big step forward,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of national women’s health non-profit, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). “Because the FDA classifies feminine pads and tampons as ‘medical devices’, manufacturers don’t have to tell their customers what ingredients are in these products. Up until now, this level of ingredient disclosure from a major feminine care manufacturer simply didn’t exist.”
“We are very excited to see both Kimberly Clark and Procter and Gamble take these first steps towards transparency,” said Switalski. “This is more ingredient information than either of these companies have ever publicly disclosed before about their tampons and pads and it gives us great confidence that they will continue to meet consumer demands by offering even more transparency soon.”
Kimberly Clark developed its disclosure policy after consulting with WVE over the last several months, while Procter and Gamble’s newly released ingredient disclosure directly follows a women’s health rally that WVE hosted on October 13 outside of the company’s annual shareholder meeting to escalate awareness about toxic chemicals in feminine care products and pressure P&G to list all ingredients in their feminine care products.
The rally also included a petition delivery. WVE joined with consumer advocate Andrea Donsky to deliver more than 35,000 signatures to Procter and Gamble asking the company to list all ingredients and to remove toxic chemicals.
“Tens of thousands of women and men across North America believe we have the right to know what the ingredients are in feminine-hygiene products,” said Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy.com. “It is encouraging to see these major companies finally starting to respond to consumer concerns.”
The event not only provided the necessary pressure to secure the first steps in product ingredient disclosure, the women’s health rally also secured WVE its first face-to-face meeting with Procter and Gamble, following the shareholder meeting.
“We offered initial feedback on Procter and Gamble’s recently available ingredient websites for Always & Tampax, and we outlined key areas of improvement for ingredient disclosure, particularly with respect to disclosure of fragrance ingredients,” said Switalski. “In contrast, we are pleased that Kimberly Clark does not use fragrance chemicals in their Kotex pads, tampons or liners.”
Fragrance secrecy is of key concern – the blanket term “fragrance” can contain over a hundred different chemicals, including those potentially putting women’s health at risk. For example, the carcinogen, styrene, is listed on Procter and Gamble’s general fragrance palate. In 2014, WVE commissioned laboratory testing of Always pads and found some of the tested products emitted styrene, as well as additional carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins.
“One of the primary next-steps we want to see in ingredient disclosure includes transparency of all fragrance ingredients used in Tampax and Always products, on a product-specific basis,” said Switalski.
For both companies there is still additional disclosure information needed to ensure women have the information they need to make safe choices to protect their health.
“Women want — and need — more information than ‘colorants’, ‘superabsorbent materials’, ‘flex foam’ and other generic terms we’re seeing in these initial disclosure webpages,” said Switalski. “Millions of women use these products on a monthly basis on an exceptionally sensitive and absorptive part of the body. At the very least, clear and complete disclosure of the ingredients used in these products is necessary so women can make informed decisions about their health.”
Others agree. “Transparency is an essential component to protecting the health and wellness of women and girls,” said Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We applaud this first step in creating a future where all women and girls can have the information they need to find safer products and, ultimately, have pads and tampons that are toxic free.”
“We look forward to continued conversations with both Procter and Gamble and Kimberly Clark, and we are optimistic about their commitment to an ongoing dialogue to discuss even better ingredient disclosure and safety standards,” said Switalski.
Women’s Voices for the Earth launched their safe feminine care products campaign in 2013 to raise awareness about chemicals of concern in feminine care products, the inadequacy of research and regulation regarding chemicals used in feminine care products, and the lack of product ingredient information available for menstrual pads and tampons.
The October 13 women’s health rally was the latest escalation of Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “Detox the Box” campaign, which has included a scientific report, Chem Fatale, product testing of Always pads, and a spoof music video calling on the world’s largest feminine-product manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, to disclose and remove potentially harmful ingredients from Tampax and Always brands.
About Women’s Voices for the Earth
Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. www.womensvoices.org.
Media Contact: Beth Conway, Communications Manager at Women’s Voices for the Earth