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SC Johnson Ramps Up Skin Allergy Transparency

leonkaye headshotWords by Leon Kaye
Leadership & Transparency
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Earlier this year, the household cleaning supplies and consumer chemicals manufacturer SC Johnson, which makes just about everything from shoe polish to air freshener, announced it would publicly disclose the presence of skin allergens.

The company recently acquired the eco-friendly brands Method and Ecover. This week, the Wisconsin-based manufacturer, made another push for sustainability launching a website that lists specific allergens by product – 368 in total, according to the company.

Consumers can visit WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, plug in a product or ingredient, and learn more – to a certain point. Whether this is a true step for “transparency” is in the eye of the beholder.

The site is useful when researching a specific product. But if a consumer wants to learn about a specific chemical, the information that SC Johnson discloses is rather limited – and such ingredient search results do not include any products that use the chemical in question.

For example, TriplePundit ran a query for deltamethrin, a pest control agent used in some products such as Raid bug spray, that could trigger skin allergies and risks harm to household pets. But all SC Johnson explains is:

“Deltamethrin is an Active Ingredient. An Active Ingredient controls a specific pest in a registered product, such as in an insecticide, antimicrobial or repellent product.”

Consumers who wish to learn more will have to search online elsewhere. Furthermore, a definition of what “Active Ingredient” actually means would be helpful. But from SC Johnson’s point of view, this is a huge step forward.

“We continue to lead by example in ingredient transparency because families should have easy access to information on the products they bring into their homes,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, in an emailed statement to 3p. “Other companies use similar ingredients, but we’re helping consumers make informed choices by disclosing the specific skin allergens that may occur in our products. Those who may have skin allergies will be helped by this transparency.”

More information on those exact skin allergy risks, however, could help make WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com a far more useful site.

Other consumer packaged goods (CGP) companies have taken action on disclosing and eliminating common allergens and toxins from their products in recent years. Two years ago, Procter & Gamble ceased using chemicals that allegedly posed cancer risks. Another global CPG giant, Unilever, has pledged more transparency in disclosing fragrances used within many of its products. And with California’s passage of a cleaning product chemical disclosure law earlier this fall, watch for more companies to take similar steps toward self-regulation – before the regulators impose additional rules on them.

Image credit: SC Johnson

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye, Executive Editor, has written for Triple Pundit since 2010. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media, and the Editor in Chief of CR Magazine. His previous work can be found at The GuardianSustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas.

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