The FDA have just announced that some organic face cream is being recalled. I’ll refrain from mentioning the name, though the story is in the public domain so anyone interested enough can track it down themselves with a bit of googling. The recall was initiated by the company themselves who have owned up that the face cream not only contains argan and pomegranate, it also contains mould.
Well you don’t get much more natural than that.
The risk to the end user is probably not all that great in reality. We come into contact with micro-organisms on a daily basis and in general we can cope with them. But actually proving that this specific contamination is harmless would be a difficult and time consuming process, so the company are quite right to instigate a recall. Although rare, microbial contamination can be deadly. A contamination of some vegetables in Germany in 2011 harmed thousands of people and left 53 dead.
That instance was particularly bad, but there are a steady stream of incidents of severe health effects from contaminated food. There has never been anything similar as a result of cosmetics being contaminated, but this is mainly down to the way that cosmetics are systematically preserved. Unpreserved cosmetics would be as dangerous as contaminated food.
To be scrupulously fair to the natural cosmetic product sector, almost all of them take preservation just as seriously as the rest of the industry. (Most natural products are in any case made by the same people who make the conventional ones.) And although I don’t recall there ever being a case, I wouldn’t have been totally surprised if it had been a more mainstream brand that was being recalled.
But it does bother me a bit to see advertising material that implies that there is something wrong with preservatives. They are there for a very good reason and you certainly don’t want to buy products without them. Steer clear of any company offering preservative free products. The risks from using cosmetics are pretty low, but if anything it is the unpreserved natural products that can kill you.