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A whiff of an anti-EU story – but updating perfume rules makes sense

May 30th, 2014

Between 1% and 3% of people in Europe – so between 600,000 and nearly 2 million people in the UK – suffer from allergic reactions to certain fragrances, which might be included not only in perfumes but products such as soap and shampoo. Some of those reactions can trigger long-term problems, like eczema

Overall use of fragrances is increasing and so are the numbers of people with allergies to them.

So the European Commission put draft proposals on the table some months ago to revise the EU Cosmetics regulation to ensure products on the shelves are safe and to try to prevent more people developing allergies – taking into account scientific advice from a committee of member states’ experts, who published their opinion in June 2012.

No fragrances and certainly not Chanel No 5 will be banned – some may need to adjust their formula and indeed are already doing so.

These proposals would ban a very small number – three, HICC, atranol and choloatranol – of the vast number of ingredients used in fragrances, launch further analysis on limiting the concentrations of eight others (which between them contain 12 chemicals which are potential allergens) and introduce new labelling requirements .

The approach the Commisison has put forward is a sensible compromise between the interests of non-allergic consumers, people who are allergic or susceptible to become so and the industry – and many in the industry recognise this.

Of course, in the final analysis, it in the interests of the industry that the number of consumers experiencing allergic reactions to its products is kept to a minimum.

LVMH released this comment to the press – “The European Commission approach guarantees the security of consumers and preserves Europe’s olfactive heritage”.

The topic is now in the media spotlight again following the end of a 12 week public consultation  on the draft proposals.

The media has sniffed an anti-EU story (for example Now EU rules threaten future of Chanel No 5; Chanel and Dior fall prey to EU ingredient regulation; Iconic Chanel No 5 perfume to reformulate under new EU regulations; EU bureaucrats take aim at Chanel No 5) but far from “Brussels targeting the perfume industry” the committee’s opinion in fact recommended more extensive measures than the ones in the Commission’s draft proposals.

Our earlier blog piece here refers and includes links to earlier media articles – pointing to the need to address the very allergy issues behind the current draft proposals.

Another interesting such article is here from the Daily Mail: Is your scent making you ill? Today’s obsession with perfuming everything from candles to bin liners could be to blame.

After fully analysing the views of the industry, consumer groups and other respondents to the consultation, the Commission will put forward final proposals after the summer, aiming to ensure the burden on industry is as light as is consistent with the proper protection of consumers and their health.

These final proposals will then be voted upon by the Standing Committee on Cosmetics which is made up of Member States’ representatives. After which MEPs and EU government ministers will have three months to scrutinise the new rules and if they so choose, to raise objections. If not opposed, the new rules will be formally adopted and the changes could come into force in 2015, though with a transition period for the industry to adapt.



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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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