If you are a small (or large) producer of skin care or toiletries products here are examples of why it is important to test cosmetic samples for the presence of bacteria and fungus.

Researchers in Japan recently identified a new species of bacteria that was isolated from hairspray. The new bacteria is named Microbacterium hatanonis. This bacteria is related to another bacterium, Microbacterium oxydans previously isolated from hospital material. Scientists do not have enough information to know if this new bacteria species is pathogenic, but similar bacteria have not been found to infect humans. It is however a gram-positive, rod shaped bacterium. The original research was published this month in the International Journal of Systemic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

Another more serious case of a contaminated cosmetic product occurred in 2006 in the intensive care unit of a Barcelona hospital. Five patients there developed infections of Burkholderia cepacia that were traced to a moisturizing lotion used in patient care. In this case the infections ranged from bacteremia, lower respiratory tract infection and urinary tract infection. Infections of this type can be life threatening for severely ill patients.

It is not common for cosmetics to be contaminated with bacteria or fungus but it does happen. This contamination at times can be a threat to human health as well as damage the product integrity. Microbes can be introduced into a product during manufacturing from the air or equipment that comes in contact with the product, it can be present in one of the ingredients of the product, or it can be introduced into the product by the consumer. Preservatives used in a product should be able to inhibit bacteria or fungus that do occur naturally in a product as well as those introduced by the consumer.

In 1989 the FDA randomly tested department store cosmetics products and found that over 5% were seriously contaminated with a variety of microorganisms. Don’t let your product be one of them. Sagescript Institute offers microbiology testing.