Cosmetic products must be safe for the consumer according to the legal requirements. This also includes microbiological safety. The products are therefore manufactured with the greatest possible care to ensure that no pathogenic germs are contained or can multiply in the products. The raw materials as well as the finished products are regularly checked for their germ content and microbiological stability. Through appropriately selected ingredients, optimized recipes, adequate preservation and adapted packaging solutions, manufacturers ensure that cosmetics have a good shelf life during their period of use.
The cosmetics companies also rely on microbiological quality management (MQM). This aims to ensure that only those products are produced that meet the strict requirements of the MQM and are therefore safe for the consumer in microbiological terms. A comprehensive MQM strategy begins with product development, includes compliance with cosmetics GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and also includes quality management with regard to suppliers.
In rare cases, however, microbial contamination may still occur. In its current statement, the BfR (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) evaluates the health risks of cosmetic products that are contaminated with Pluralibacter gergoviae (formerly Enterobacter gergoviae). So far, no information on infections caused by the use of cosmetic products is available. However, due to the health risk potential of the germ, the BfR recommends that cosmetic products should not be contaminated with Pluralibacter gergoviae – especially to protect sensitive risk groups.
Even though only a few contaminations with Pluralibacter gergoviae have been reported in recent years through the European rapid alert system for consumer products "Safety Gate" (formerly RAPEX), cosmetic manufacturers take the BfR recommendations very seriously. After all, consumer safety is the top priority for manufacturers of cosmetic products. In order to prevent contamination of their products with microorganisms, manufacturers take a variety of measures, such as the proper design of production facilities, consistent cleaning and disinfection of all equipment involved in production, and good industrial and personnel hygiene.
For the entire period of use, preservatives – the safety of which has been extensively tested at EU level – protect the cosmetic product by preventing spoilage by microorganisms, thus protecting the health of the consumer.