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Are products in Europe "safer"? Hmm… let’s check some ingredient labels.


We recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Europe including Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam. By “we” I mean me, my husband, my kids, and my parents. Despite the varying ages of our group (9 to 69), we travelled well together. We experienced numerous historical sites and art. We ate unique and adventurous food. And, we walked up to 10 miles each day.

We had an amazing time!

I feel super fortunate to have had this experience and if you have any questions about ANYTHING - from how we budgeted for our trip, to what we packed or what sites you just shouldn’t miss - include your questions in the comments and I’ll respond!

But back to where I’m going with this post..since my first visit to Europe, I’ve always had a glorified view that the continent as a whole was “healthier”. Pretty silly considering that 27 countries that make up the European Union. Of course they each have a unique culture, food, and practices, but for the most part, their regulations are much stricter than America. Plus they have a much better transportation systems which leads to more walking, which is definitely healthier!

Now don’t quit reading now as I go into more specifics about product safety. I know this can get confusing and overwhelming and most people don’t care about this stuff as much as I do. But as your toxin free guru, I just have to dig deep and share this information. And, by the way, I’m always here to guide you in choosing safer products...

...I’m not totally wrong in my view of Europe as being “healthier”. Afterall, the European Commission actually has a general product safety directive that sets as a standard the necessity “to establish at Community level a general safety requirement for a product placed on the market”.

In America, on the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has 112 pages of standards for food and drugs, but only TWO for cosmetics. When it comes to cleaning products, that duty is punted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is currently no federal law that requires labeling of cleaning products. So, unlike food labels, manufacturers of chemical products aren’t required to make their ingredient lists public, or put it on the label!

This is not the case in Europe, where because of the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation, manufacturers and importers must label products before putting them on the shelves.

But what I found on our trip surprised me. At our first stop I checked out the shampoo and soap provided by the hotel. The label on those little bottles included ingredients like PEGs, linaloo, and limonene. While the shampoo didn’t include phthalates or parabens, it certainly wasn’t as clean as I hoped it would be.

This photo of Le Meridien Munich is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Then I was lured into a skincare shop in Paris and the very pricey (IMO) products contained methylparaben, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and phenoxyethanol and their website doesn’t disclose ingredients for the thank you! More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer!

This might all sound completely overwhelming. Reading a product label can be hard. Like what the heck is grapefruit seed extract, that certainly sounds safe. Sorry to say but it is NOT! Don’t worry. I’m here to be the nerd for you. And if you want me to do the dirty work and clean out all the unsafe products from your home, I do that too.

So, if you found this information helpful, please share it using one of the buttons below. And I’d love to hear your experiences traveling and seeing the world, and what you have noticed when visiting other countries. Let’s get this conversation going, comment below!