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Shopping figures; Charity letters; Christmas lights sabotage

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 19 December 2013

The Office for National Statistics releases its last shopping figures before Christmas.

A listener asks if it is ethical for charities to keep sending donation letters to his elderly relative.

A husband exacts his revenge on his wife over festive lights by writing his own Christmas letter.


8 items
  • Christmas Spend

    What do the latest official figures tell us about shopping in the run-up to Christmas?

  • Charity Letters

    A listener tells us an elderly relative was bombarded by charity letters.Is that ethical?

  • Christmas Lights

    A husband's story of revenge and skullduggery to switch off Christmas lights

  • Claims for the Deceased

    What do you do if a dead relative was mis-sold insurance?

  • Beauty Products

    More on just how many products contain methylisothiazolinone – known as MI or MIT

  • Boilers

    Is it always better to bin your old boiler for a new one?

  • Click and Collect

    How ordering online and picking up your purchases is the best way to shop this Christmas

  • Green Deal Latest

    Is the government's green deal a hit with the public?

  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI). Product update

    After our report on yesterday's programme about Methylisothiazolinone (MI) we received hundreds of emails from you. 
    The European Commission has said a preservative widely used in 'leave-on' cosmetic skin-care products is not safe for consumers. It's called methylisothiazolinone or MI for short and can be found in a vast selection of products we use everyday, including moisturisers, hair gels, make up and wipes.
    You & Yours contacted the major suppliers of your cosmetic products and here are their statements in full. 

    Cosmetic, Toiletries, Perfume Association - Statement

    Thursday 19th December 2013

    Dr Chris Flower, Director-General of the CTPA, said:

    Consumer safety is paramount, so when any new data come to light, the cosmetics industry takes it extremely seriously. We have reviewed the new data relating to MI and allergy in partnership with the European Society for Contact Dermatitis. Industry, through the European personal care association, Cosmetics Europe, has taken the initiative of recommending that the use of MI in all leave-on skin care products is discontinued as soon as possible. This will happen in advance of any change to the law.

    We have also been made aware of an opinion from the SCCS to reduce the concentration of MI in rinse-off cosmetics products. We will be working closely with them and the dermatology community at large to understand the data surrounding rinse-off products and act accordingly.

    Banning or amending the use of an ingredient in a cosmetic product can be complex especially where it concerns preservatives, as is the case with MI.  Preservatives play an essential role in keeping cosmetics safe for use and there are only a limited number of these that are permitted for use in cosmetics and which scientists can choose from.  For this reason the industry must take a robust, evidence-based approach to any ingredient changes.

    We would like to encourage listeners who believe they may have had a reaction to MI in a cosmetic product to contact the manufacturer’s Customer Care Line listed on their product because their feedback provides us with invaluable information we can act on.

    Boots UK Spokesperson, 18 December 2013

    "At Boots UK we are committed to bringing our customers great health and beauty brands that they can trust. All our products are subject to strict European safety regulations and our team of Formulation experts carefully test all products before they go on sale.   As a responsible company, and ahead of any regulatory changes, we are already reformulating our affected own brand products to remove MIT, in accordance with Cosmetic Europe’s recommendation and the Scientific Committees Consumer Safety opinion on MIT. Customers with any concerns about skin allergies should always speak to their GP or pharmacist for further information."


    “Superdrug currently produces one Own Brand product designed to be left on the skin which contains MI (female hair removal sachet).  Prior to the recent guidance Superdrug had already taken steps to reformulate this product and a new version will be available in 2014.  We are currently working with all our suppliers to understand which products, which are designed to be left on the skin, contain MI.  We will work closely with these manufacturers to understand their plans to eliminate MI from these products to meet the new guidelines.”

    Unilever - produce Dove, Sure, Vasoline, Lynx

    “Unilever is aware of the EU SCCS opinion on the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI).

    “MI is a commonly used preservative in a range of consumer products. Preservatives are essential ingredient in many personal care products as they avoid the development of bacteria, germs and other organisms that lead to product deterioration, spoilage and potential consumer safety issues.

    “Consumers trust us to provide them with products that are safe and effective. Over the past months we have closely followed dermatologists’ concerns about MI. The safety of our products being our top priority, we regularly update our safety assessments in light of new information and scientific developments. We discussed the new findings with dermatologists and have reviewed the use of MI in all our products. As a result, we decided to phase-out MI from all leave-on personal care products and started our replacement programme earlier this year. We will continue to engage with dermatologists and authorities on our approach, ensuring that our products are safe and effective."



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