A proposed class action alleges L’Oreal’s Redken dry shampoo is contaminated with “dangerously high levels” of benzene, a carcinogenic impurity linked to leukemia and other cancers.
The 24-page complaint says Redken dry shampoo is not designed to contain benzene, and in fact “no amount of benzene is acceptable” in the products. The case alleges the benzene contamination renders the Redken dry shampoos adulterated and misbranded under state and federal law.
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“As a result, the Products are unsafe and illegal to sell under federal law, and therefore worthless,” the suit states.
Although the labels on bottles of Redken dry shampoo list the products’ active and inactive ingredients, no mention is made of benzene, a component of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke, the lawsuit stresses. The case alleges L’Oreal thus misrepresents that the dry shampoos do not contain the dangerous impurity, or otherwise fails to disclose that the products may contain benzene.
Consumers would not have bought the products, or would have paid much less for them, had L’Oreal disclosed that they contained or risked containing benzene, the filing says.
According to the complaint, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans, and the Food and Drug Administration likewise lists the substance as a Class I solvent that should not be used in the manufacture of drug products due to its “unacceptable toxicity.”
Further, the World Health Organization has stated that human exposure to benzene has been linked to acute and long-term health problems and diseases, the suit adds.
From there, the lawsuit explains that independent laboratory Valisure, whose mission is to “independently check the chemical composition of medications and healthcare products before they reach consumers,” tested for certain chemical qualities in various brands of dry shampoo in October and detected “high levels” of benzene in batches of certain brands, including L’Oreal’s Redken. According to the complaint, the Redken products tested by Valisure were found to contain as much as 7.55 parts per million (ppm) of benzene, well above the legal limit of 2 ppm for drug products with a “significant therapeutic advance.”
Regardless, the suit says, Redken dry shampoo is not designed to contain benzene, and since it is not a drug product, any significant detection of benzene is considered unacceptable.
The filing stresses that a cosmetic product is considered adulterated under federal law if it “bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to users.”
“The presence of benzene renders the Products adulterated and misbranded,” the suit says. “… [B]enzene is a poisonous and deleterious substance that has been linked to cancer and is dangerous at any level. The Products were also manufactured in such an insanitary [sic] way that they became contaminated with benzene. Thus, the Products are adulterated.”
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons in the United States who bought L’Oreal’s Redken dry shampoo for personal or household use within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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