Ethical dilemma

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cthylla

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I saw a thread about a friend with a potentially unsafe product, but in my case, it is another business. I am not personally associated with them in any way.
They are creating mostly anhydrous body butters but adding water-based additives without using any preservative. They've probably already sold a couple 100 of them.
I don't want to do anything publicly to make them look bad, but I'm concerned not only in general but because some of my own beloved regulars have started shopping there, too.
I emailed her to ask for clarification on the water-based ingredients (she doesn't bother with INCI on her labels =| ) and she confirmed that they are water-based.

What would you do? Just send an educational email and move on? The utter failure of people to do any research beyond bath bomb colorants before starting a bath & body business absolutely floors me.

Oh dear. She just replied to my basic email about water-based additives without a preservative and told me that shea butter, jojoba oil, and Vitamin E are all natural preservatives. =O
 
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lenarenee

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What would I do? I would let her know that I'm concerned for her welfare,(physical, financial, and business) give her factual, scientific information/references (on paper or email) so she can see the research on the need for preservatives in her products.

Is that the "right" thing? I have no idea. I just know that in order for my conscience to allow me to sleep at night, I need to know that she's making unsafe products out of ignorance, instead of carelessness. If she chooses to continue with unsafe practices, that's her choice.
 

Susie

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Nothing you can do unless she is a close enough friend to listen to you when you tell her that she is going to have yuckies growing in there soon. But I would feel it was my responsibility to email her some scientific info on what is going to happen if she does not add preservatives.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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If any of my customers told me they were shopping there, I would politely point out that I think some products can be dangerous for the reasons above, but other than that I would send one last email directing her to information showing that these things are not enough (or even slightly good enough)
 

lenarenee

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Oh dear. She just replied to my basic email about water-based additives without a preservative and told me that shea butter, jojoba oil, and Vitamin E are all natural preservatives. =O

Well, we know they aren't.

Send her facts - not "your" facts...but the sources where she can read them herself.

I know there are people who are willing to be wrong and learn from their mistakes, and there are those who get stubborn and refuse to listen.
Handling them is difficult. All you can do is try - the rest is up to her.
 

cthylla

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That's sort of what I am struggling with. I want to contact my friends and customers I've become close with to warn them, but that feels underhanded for some reason. Also, I'm scared of Internet flame wars between our companies! =(
 

lenarenee

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One a similar note: I have $25 of lotion products bought at a market that's sitting unopened in my fridge right now. I asked the maker if she used preservatives, does she have her product lab tested, etc. We blabbered on about lotion and soap making, she's speaking at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference in 2016, so on and so forth.

Her answers were all yes-es. Great! Wonderful! I loved the oils she choose for her recipes and tried her samples, and made my purchase.

Except - I forgot to ask exactly WHAT preservative she used. I didn't read her label until I got home. I relied on her verbal responses. DUMB.
She uses borax and vitamin E. :shock: Um...did I mention she's speaking at the Guild Conference next year???

That's sort of what I am struggling with. I want to contact my friends and customers I've become close with to warn them, but that feels underhanded for some reason. Also, I'm scared of Internet flame wars between our companies! =(

And that's really tough....knowing who you should warn.

Again, this is what I personally would do, so take it with a grain of salt. But for anyone I knew using her products who was elderly, or had young kids - those who are particularly vulnerable - I would definitely let them know that unpreserved products can grow bacteria/mold without showing any signs.
 

lenarenee

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HOW does that happen?! =O
I know! I lost some respect for the HSCG - for it seems that they don't do any in depth investigation on the level of knowledge their speakers have.

Perhaps, she's not teaching lotion making and speaking on...selling at markets or something? I don't know.

She's been in business for at least 4 years - drives a vehicle advertising it. I actually bought her lotion years ago (back before I knew what to look for in handcrafted products) and loved it (Yikes! It was not a squeeze bottle either - it was the kind you dip your fingers into - you know...a potential cesspool of gross organisms?!)
 

Soapmaker145

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I second what TEG said. Since you share some customers, I would write a short "know the facts" report to give to customers about handmade products in general. I would mention key elements to look for when shopping for a handmade product including the need for the right preservative. I would also list steps you take to ensure that the products you sell are safe including testing the product yourself. I would also mention FDA requirements. I believe it is illegal to sell those types of products in the US without a preservative.

If you don't know her, I suggest avoiding any contact with her because it will turn ugly. People like her is why I hesitate purchasing handmade products from people I don't know.
 

dixiedragon

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Do you have a mailing list and/or an FB page? I'd do a little write-up. Not dogging her products but promoting yours. "Why I use Preservatives." And explain that water and water-based ingredients are great places for mold, bacteria, etc to grow and thrive. And add something like, "if you want to avoid preservatives, I offer salves and body-bars that contain no water based ingredients and therefore don't need preservatives to remain safe." Include links to relevant articles.
 

shunt2011

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I like how dixiedragon said to address it. You need to provide the knowledge to potential customers so they have the tools to decide if they want to purchase products. At least they are better informed. But, keep it with supporting facts. Do it on your site as you really can't control what others do.
 

cthylla

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Do you have a mailing list and/or an FB page? I'd do a little write-up. Not dogging her products but promoting yours. "Why I use Preservatives." And explain that water and water-based ingredients are great places for mold, bacteria, etc to grow and thrive. And add something like, "if you want to avoid preservatives, I offer salves and body-bars that contain no water based ingredients and therefore don't need preservatives to remain safe." Include links to relevant articles.
I do! I think I am going to write up a blog on my page and then share it with my list.
 

lenarenee

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Do you have a mailing list and/or an FB page? I'd do a little write-up. Not dogging her products but promoting yours. "Why I use Preservatives." And explain that water and water-based ingredients are great places for mold, bacteria, etc to grow and thrive. And add something like, "if you want to avoid preservatives, I offer salves and body-bars that contain no water based ingredients and therefore don't need preservatives to remain safe." Include links to relevant articles.
That's a great idea. And if your friend reads it, she might accept the idea of preservatives better.
 
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