A #LabelLessons Victory in Feminine Hygiene

By Naturally Savvy

In the last several decades there has been an extraordinary amount of energy put into creating awareness around what goes into our food and how we can take charge of our diets. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) passed in 1990 and required food processing companies to disclose the ingredients of their packaged foods. And now, we're looking at a new age and a new traction in policy over a different sector of consumer products that, similarly to food, is inserted instead of ingested and in a part of the body that many are arguing is more susceptible than the mouth. Yes, we're talking about feminine hygiene products.

In March of 2013 we released an e-book called "Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart. In it we disclosed that feminine hygiene companies in the U.S. do not have to disclose the ingredients of menstrual pads and tampons because they are considered to be "medical devices." At the same time, we launched a petition on Change.org that, to date, has garnered more than 18,000 signatures from women in over 50 countries around the world. All we were asking for was transparency. In October of this year, Women's Voices for the Earth staged a rally in front of Procter & Gamble's headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. After presenting Procter & Gamble with the names from our petition, plus additional signatures from a petition on their own website, P&G published the ingredients of two of their brands: Tampax, and Always, on its website.

This is a critical success for a petition first introduced over two years ago. While it's infuriating that the FDA doesn't mandate companies that produce medical devices (like tampons and sanitary pads) to always label their products’ ingredients, P&G has finally recognized the voices of its consumers, and taken action to accommodate their demands.

Read more: Toxic Feminine Hygiene Products

Taking a Look Back

In Atlantic magazine’s article, "Tampon: A History" published in June of this year, Ashley Fetters aptly states, "...every time a tampon user pops in a Playtex Sport or a Tampax Pearl, she’s handling a disposable, absorbent totem of centuries of technological innovation and cultural influence. The commercial tampon as we know it has been shaped and re-shaped by a myriad of invisible forces—like genuine concern for women’s wellness, certainly, but also sexism, panic, feminism, capitalism, and secrecy." Fetters has called out the lack of transparency of corporations in America in regards to the constant evolution of their product lines in stylized, yet direct way that's becoming more and more common in mainstream writing.

What Fetters says is true. Every nuance of a period product from its packaging to the composition of the actual pad or tampon has been transformed numerous times to serve the interests of its creators- the "invisible forces" or the think tanks that are paid the big bucks to predict consumer behavior based on mainstream culture and dominant cultural narratives. And they aren't humbled by any formidable regulations. Instead, we have a set of conglomerate companies who dance around deficient FDA regulations that seem to be more welcoming of new business in the U.S. than consistently safe products.

With the precedent set by our petition, our "Pads on Fire" video (which has received more than 86,000 views), and Women's Voices rally, who's to say that consumer advocacy groups cannot help develop this traction into measures of increased accountability on period products in the U.S.?

NEXT PAGE>>:  What Would Labeling Do for Women in the U.S.? 

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By Naturally Savvy| December 20, 2015
Categories:  Care

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Naturally Savvy

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