World Perfumery Congress highlights allergen concerns

Following the publication by the EU Commission of its proposed measures to enhance consumer protection from potential fragrance allergens, the World Perfumery Congress presented the topic of allergens as one of its main focuses.

The event, which took place in June in Deauville, France, gathered over 1,000 industry experts from around the world.

Under the proposed guidelines, luxury perfume brands may be required to reformulate their scents, as the measures include the banning of some widely-used ingredients such as oak moss which, the EC says, is thought to cause between 1-3% of allergic reactions in Europeans.

In total, the commission proposes banning three allergens – HICC, atranol and chloroatranol (the latter two being found in oak moss) – which it considers to be unsafe, and suggests that a number of additional allergens should be individually mentioned in the list of ingredients on packaging. This is because although personal care products must list their ingredients, fragrance formulas have so far been considered ‘trade secrets’ and so are exempt from this legal requirement. Instead the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘aroma’ can be used even though this can represent a number of ingredients.

In her session, Building Consumer Confidence Through Effective Risk Management, Julie Girling, MEP, focused on current risk management approaches used by regulators and how they can instil consumer confidence if applied proportionately.

Girling argued that the industry needs to be more honest about allergens in fragrance products so that consumers better understand that any product carries a risk, but that the risk is comparatively small.

In response to accusations that the perfume industry is being unfairly targeted, the EU said that the new regulations aim to address concerns raised by scientists about the health hazards related to perfume use and stressed that it was not only focusing on the cosmetics industry.

The EU Commission’s proposed measures form of an amendment to the Cosmetics Regulation adopted in 2009 and are scheduled to be enforced at the beginning of 2015.