Gwyneth Paltrow and GOOP are hiring a fact checker because they couldn’t Word Salad their way into a publishing agreement with Condé Nast.
It is troubling that Paltrow finds medical facts tiresome and old school (per her profile in the New York Times Magazine) and yet wants to help women find good information about health. Facts are the thing that makes one empowered to make health care decisions, although it is possible they get in the way of purchases.
Since I am the 2018 People’s Choice for GOOP fact checker I decided to do one for you all in return for giving me this prestigious award.
I am working on the menstrual hygiene chapter for my book, The Vagina Bible, so I decided to fact check the recent GOOPy claims about SHE. tampons, a product they are only having a conversation about and totally not endorsing even though they are selling it.
Selling something apparently doesn’t mean you should actually use it. Or something.
I don’t know, I don’t speak Word Salad.
Here is the advertisement as it appears on GOOP. I’m not linking to them because the idea of Paltrow running around screaming “Vagina, Vagina, Vagina” so she can “monetize those eyeballs” — which is apparently totally not the same as click bait– makes me nauseous.
I’ve underlined statements I felt needed fact checking or expanded upon for clarity.
As I tell my kids, hold onto your pantyhose because we’re going in.
Claim #1: There is a “laundry list of harmful chemicals found in conventional tampons.”
All tampon applications submitted to the FDA include a list of ingredients and the manufacturing process. New materials require safety studies. If the materials are similar to what is already approved new studies are not required only proof that the product is similar to what has already been approved. The FDA doesn’t approve harmful chemicals in tampons. They are quite clear on this.
The FDA specifically states that tampons must be “free of 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)/2,3,7,8-tetrachlorofuran dioxin (TCDF) and any pesticide and herbicide residues” and that manufacturers must “describe any assurances that chemical residues are not present or, if residues are present, the level present and the method used to assess it.”
Two studies show dioxin concentrations are the same in 100% cotton and cotton/rayon tampons. According to one study, “exposures to dioxins from tampons is approximately 13,000-240,000 times less than dietary exposures.”
Bleaching is used to convert wood pulp into rayon. The two methods is use are either Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) or Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) bleaching and do not release dioxin. More info from the FDA:
Tampons also do not have asbestos. That is old-time pre-Internet fake news.
2. The FDA doesn’t require feminine care products to disclose their ingredients at all.
True, but misleading.
The components do not have to be on the package, but they are listed with the FDA.
The implication here is is the false claim that “conventional” companies are hiding something. Since they can’t have dioxin or pesticides or herbicide residue I’m not sure what harmful product GOOP thinks is hidden in tampons?
A jade egg? Just kidding.
Since manufacturers have to disclose their ingredients to the FDA and you can look them up on the FDA website I’m calling bullshit. I also e-mailed the people at Procter and Gamble who make Tampax, the “conventional” tampon brand that I used for 36 years, and asked them about their ingredients. Did they have any hidden ones?
Their reply, “all of the components are outlined on our website. We also use Smartlabel technology on-pack for shoppers to review the composition on their smartphones.”
They also said this,
“Every woman wants what is best for their body, and when there’s a question about ingredients and safety, we take that concern very seriously. Our intention is to always be open and transparent with women on the safety and product composition of our feminine hygiene products by including composition, ingredients and detailed safety and usage directions on our website and on/in the package (example Tampax) . We are also willing to answer additional questions through our 1-800 # and social channels so they may have so they can make informed choices about their period products.”
I don’t make any money from Procter and Gamble. They did not reach out to me, I contacted them.
3. The founding of SHE.
True, but misleading.
I am sure it was founded by the three women, however, the implication to me was they were making these revolutionary organic tampons in California. I envisioned West Coast witches (the good kind) making tampons on the beach under a blood moon or at least a small factory employing local women.
I mean they actually say they are “made with California love.”.
Who was actually making the SHE. tampons with California love?
I looked up their FDA application and SHE. tampons are made by the company Tosama who have production facilities in Vir pri Domžalah, Slovenia.
How do they get the California Love to Slovenia, I wondered?
Here is SHE.’s registration with the FDA.
When you click the link this is what you get:
It seems as if Tosama took care of the 501(k) with the FDA and then provided SHE. with a privately labelled product. There is nothing wrong with this and nothing wrong with Tosama’s products. I think I used them last year when I was in Europe and they were great! However, this doesn’t excatly scream “California Love” to me.
I could order tampons from Tosama (although probably not now after this post) and sell them as gynecologist-approved and tested, which would be 100% true because I would have approved them and put one or two in my vagina as a test. Not at the same time though. I did that once. On purpose. Don’t do it. Just. Don’t.
The equivalent Tosama box of tampons to SHE. retails on their website for $3.95. They are sold on GOOP for $7.99.
Adding California Love is expensive.
4. Made with 100% organic cotton
That us what it says on the 501(k).
5. Most conventional tampons are laced with glyphosate.
There is no published,. peer-reviewed data. I’ve written on this myth before.
The same advertisement that insinuates “conventional” tampon manufacturers are lying about ingredients is actually being untruthful about the presence of glyphosate in “conventional” tampons?
6. Glyphosate is a known carcinogen
The American Cancer Society has a list of known carcinogens (the “known” is part of the terminology). That list does not include glyphosate. Glyphosate is on the probably carcinogenic list, although a lot of data has questioned that conclusion. Regardless, no one has shown glyphosate is in tampons so it doesn’t really matter.
7. SHE. tampons are free of fragrance, pesticides, insecticides, rayon, synthetics, and GMOs.
True, but misleading.
All unscented tampons are fragrance free. Fragrance has to be listed on the 501(k) applications to the FDA. No one is hidding fragrance in tampons.
There are no harmful residues in tampons because A) we have studies showing there is no dioxin and B) the FDA requires manufacturers to prove they have no harmful residues. Tosama proved to the FDA that the tampons they are selling as SHE. are pesticide and herbicide free with the same paperwork as every other tampon manufacturer.
As for rayon, well, the most recent study looking at TSS actually showed a lower chance of the potentially deadly toxn production with rayon-cotton blends than all cotton so personally I wouldn’t be bragging about the lack of rayon.
I am not sure what synthetics GOOP thinks are in conventional tampons that are made of cotton or cotton and rayon? And GMOS? I just can’t even with that. What do they think GMO cotton would do to the vagina? Prevent your Stepford transition?
Regardless, nothing on the Tosama website says their tampons are free of GMOS. I checked. Hey. I’m not taking the word of the GOOPsters.
If I rewrote the advertisement for GOOP it would go something like this…
Women are frightened by false reports and conspiracy theories about hidden toxins in tampons, even though these have been disproven. The FDA requires that tampons be free of herbicides and pesticides and all manufacturers prove that to the FDA with the same paperwork. No published peer-reviewed study shows there is more glyphosate in so called conventional tampons versus those that are 100% organic cotton.
The FDA doesn’t require feminine care products to disclose their ingredients on the packaging, but you can get that information from the FDA. Some manufacturers list their ingredients, but you can also e-mail your preferred hygiene product manufacturer and ask them just as our unpaid fact-checking Intern, Dr. Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DAMPM, ABPMR (pain), did with the e-mail address she easily found on on campany’s website.
We at GOOP are selling SHE. tampons, which are 100% organic cotton. The company was founded by three Los Angeles sisters and the tampons are made by Tosama who packages them in Slovenia for SHE. making sure to include California Love. Whether 100% cotton tampons are better for you than a cotton-rayon blend is not known, the data has been conflicting, although the latest study on toxic shock syndrome refutes previous claims that 100% cotton tampons are the safest.
SHE. tampons are fragrance-free like all fragrance-free tampons. Like all tampons SHE. is free of pesticides and herbicides. Insecticides are a type of pesticide so we don’t need to single that out because we already told you that SHE. tampons are pesticide free.
SHE. tampons are free of synthetics, but the applicator that is inserted and rubs up against your vaginal mucosa is synthetic because it is made of plastic.
I’m totally not going to get that fact checking job at GOOP am I?