There are many ways in which a cosmetic product can be contaminated by microorganisms. These then multiply to produce high bacterial counts that can cause adverse effects on product quality and consumer health, ranging from infections to severe allergic reactions.

ISO 29621:2010, Cosmetics – Microbiology – Guidelines for the risk assessment and identification of microbiologically low-risk products, will help determine which cosmetic products present a low risk to users, where the likelihood of contamination is extremely low.

According to the new ISO 29621 standard, a number of product characteristics needs to be evaluated when performing a microbial risk assessment, such as product composition, production conditions, packaging and a combination of these factors. Cosmetics rated as "low-risk products" will not need to undergo further microbiological testing.

Mojdeh Rowshan Tabari, Secretary of the technical committee and Convener of the working group which developed the standard underlined that ISO 29621 will help cosmetic manufacturers and regulatory agencies to determine when, based on a risk assessment, the routine application of the microbiological International Standards for cosmetics and other relevant methods are not necessary.

ISO 29621 is one of a series of standards being developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 217, Cosmetics, for the detection and identification of microorganisms in cosmetic products. The standard can be used by both public and private laboratories working to ensure the creation of safe cosmetic products for consumers.

ISO 29621:2010, Cosmetics – Microbiology – Guidelines for the risk assessment and identification of microbiologically low-risk products, was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 217, Cosmetics. It costs 66 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing & Communication department (see right-hand column).

Note: The quality of finished goods is controlled by applying cosmetic good manufacturing practices (GMPs) (see ISO 22716) during the manufacturing process, using preservatives and conducting control tests using appropriate methods.