SC Johnson Gives Families the Whole Story on Skin Allergens

In 2017, SC Johnson announced another groundbreaking step: skin allergen transparency beyond regulations and other companies.
Skin allergens are now noted on SC Johnson ingredient lists for 5,300+ products sold in 52 countries.

You might be surprised to know that companies don’t have to tell you about all the skin allergens in the products they make. In the European Union, disclosure of 26 skin allergens is required. In the United States and most other countries, there are no rules requiring allergen transparency. And to us, that didn’t seem right.

So, in May of 2017, we shared a list of the 368 skin allergens that might appear in our products, and a commitment to share product-specific details soon. By the end of the year, we had added them to our ingredient lists on WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com for more than 5,300 products. 

Why would we go to such lengths? We believe in telling the whole story. 

For us, transparency is a matter of principle. We are interested in helping people make the best choices for their families... This is just the next step we are taking in our journey to be more and more transparent.
Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson

With our skin allergen transparency, SC Johnson has again gone beyond our industry and beyond current regulations for ingredient disclosure. 

Skin allergens can appear among fragrance ingredients and in other formulas as well. Other companies use similar ingredients to those that we use, they simply don’t communicate the details about skin allergies. We consider it helpful to disclose these ingredients, particularly for people with a pre-existing skin allergy.

As our Chairman and CEO, Fisk Johnson, explained, “For us, transparency is a matter of principle. We are interested in helping people make the best choices for their families. Just like when we started listing preservatives, dyes and fragrances, we didn’t stop with the industry standard. We want to tell the whole story. This is just the next step we are taking in our journey to be more and more transparent.”  

Our announcement was greeted with praise from transparency advocates. Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder of Environmental Working Group, said “By taking these steps, SC Johnson will help millions of consumers be smarter about chemicals in cleaning products that have the potential to cause allergic skin responses. And SC Johnson is once again raising the bar for other companies. This level of transparency is sweeping across other industries and is rapidly becoming the new normal for companies, like SC Johnson, who place a premium on giving consumers more, rather than less, ingredient information.”
 
For us, it is simply about doing what is right. It is a lot of work to communicate the low levels of skin allergens in products, but it is worth it. We are continuing on a path to provide more and more information to the people who buy our products, so they can make choices that are best for them and their families.
By taking these steps, SC Johnson will help millions of consumers be smarter about chemicals in cleaning products… SC Johnson is once again raising the bar for other companies.
Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder of Environmental Working Group
To determine our comprehensive list of fragrance and non-fragrance skin allergens, SC Johnson scientists analysed more than 3,000 data sets from public and industry sources for skin allergens identified on country regulatory lists, fragrance industry lists, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reviews, dermatology clinic data and individual supplier safety data sheets. 
 
Then, we shared our findings for validation with experts in the fields of dermatology, immuno-toxicology, fragrance toxicology and allergens. The expert panel that validated the study methods included: 
 
  • David Basketter, D.Sc., independent consultant and recognised international expert on allergy; former Director of Safety Research, Unilever 
  • David Bickers, M.D., Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University 
  • Peter Cadby, Ph.D., former Head of Product Safety at Firmenich 
  • Axel Schnuch, M.D., University of Göttingen; retired Head of IVDK (Information Network of Departments of Dermatology) 
  • Peter Thorne, Ph.D., Head of Department of Occupational & Environmental Health, University of Iowa; Director of Environmental Health Sciences Research Centre
 
Currently, the consumer goods industry uses 3,700 fragrance ingredients published by the International Fragrance Association. However, we exclude about 2,400 because there may be a lack of basic safety information or they don’t meet a high enough standard. 
 
As a result, we specify for our product developers that when creating a new product or updating an existing one, the fragrance has to come from our limited SC Johnson Fragrance Palette of 1,300 components. For this skin allergen disclosure programme, we reviewed both natural and synthetic skin allergens in our products. In many cases, naturals can have more skin allergens than synthetics.
Itchy Arm
What matters most in determining a skin allergy reaction is the amount of exposure, or “dose.”
A skin allergen is a substance that the immune system recognises as a threat and attacks. The presence of a skin allergen does not mean, however, that it will automatically cause a person to develop a skin allergy or a skin allergy reaction. 
 
What matters is the dose or the amount of exposure. The consensus among the scientific community is that a dose of less than 0.01 percent is unlikely to cause a reaction for most skin allergens in rinse-off products. Our product-specific skin allergen transparency will disclose skin allergens down to 0.01 percent, the same standard as the European Union.
 
 
At SC Johnson, we take care to use ingredients with skin allergens only in amounts so low that it would be highly unlikely to create a new skin allergy or trigger a skin allergy reaction.
Video
Anatomy of an Allergen
See the three-step process that causes the development of an allergy, from our collaboration with Scientific American Custom Media. 

With the addition of skin allergen information, SC Johnson’s ingredient transparency programme now provides product-specific fragrance and skin allergen information for more than 5,300 products sold by the company in 52 countries worldwide. 

In fact, with the expansion of our transparency programme into Asia Pacific in 2017, our ingredient list website, WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, now serves more than 5 billion consumers.

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