The thing about product approval
This post may seem a little dull but we wanted to highlight the vast differences between countries in getting products approved for sale. Some countries physically test the product to check it's safe, others insist on knowing every ingredient and concentration - and some do absolutely NOTHING. While it has been a big administrative burden to have our products approved for sale in some countries, we are more than happy to do it knowing consumers are protected. We write specifically about cosmetics products here but requirements to launch household products also vary hugely by country.
Australia and the US
NOTHING - launch anything freely just list all ingredients in descending order on the packaging. Nobody checks whether it's correct and it is up to consumers or activists to work out whether they are true or not which they sometimes do (read here the case of the Honest company).
Submit full ingredients lists in INCI format including exact concentration plus collate at least 3 pieces of info (allergen statements, raw material info and IFRA) on each ingredient (which can mean up to 60 pieces documents per product). Plus, challenge tests, microbial tests, paperwork from packaging suppliers, and lab analysis of safety of product. Minimum cost per product to do this is around US$2,500 and each scent is counted as a different product. Amend all product labels in line with European laws - taking care not to make any claims not proven. This has taken us 12 months to do for a limited range of our BODY products.
Submit full ingredients lists in INCI format including concentrations. Have each product tested for toxic ingredients including formaldehyde.
Submit full ingredients lists with names on the Korean database (different from INCI) for all products. Provide certificates of free sale, BSE free and manufacture for each product - all stamped by a local Chamber of Commerce (at a cost of $45 per page!).
We haven't had our BODY products tested in China as it is cruel, however we understand that part of the process there is that products are placed in rabbits' eyes to test for a reaction.
Occasionally customs in NZ will request our MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) to check ingredient's listings and products safety.
The implications from all this?
Consumers living in Europe, Japan and Korea are much better protected from dangerous or potentially irritating formulations. Consumers in Australia and the US unfortunately need to take greater care in reading labels and asking questions about the products they buy.