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EU amendment to sharpen restrictions on fragrance allergens

EU amendment to sharpen restrictions on fragrance allergens 9 years ago
Not quite ready to accept that nothing can be done about fragrance reformulation in the name of consumer safety, I have been reading on the IFRA and EU cosmetics regulation. I thought I share my newly acquired insights with you all. Please feel free to add, correct and comment.

The I.F.R.A. and EU legislation on cosmetic products are not the same

The IFRA (International Fragrance Association) has delighted many a fragrance connoisseur with its most recent amendment, issuing restrictions and prohibitions for meanwhile around 200 natural or synthetic ingredients of concern. Abiding by the IFRA Code of Practice is a prerequisite for all fragrance supplier companies that are members of the IFRA. Some non-members choose to comply with it nonetheless. Not doing so is "difficult to sustain in the EU because of the need for safety assessments and in the US because you are likely to be sued and defending the case when you have not abided by the internationally recognised safety standards is going to be very difficult to say the least", to quote Chris Bartlett at BN.

In the EU (European Union), Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, which had been adopted in 2009, must be fully complied with since July 2013. All companies that are either located in the EU or sell to the EU must comply with this legislation.

It is required that 26 fragrance allergens must be indicated in the list of ingredients when its concentration exceeds 0.001% in leave-on products, e.g. perfumes, and 4 fragrance ingredients are restricted to certain levels. Whether or not this is grounded on up to date scientific research is debatable. Quite a number of papers have been published that question the EU's "26 allergens" legislation. For a summary refer to Cropwatch Claims Victory Regarding "26 Allergens" Legislation (or, in a broader context, to Negative Bias, an article published in Personal Care). However, up until now EU legislation on cosmetic products is significantly less rigorous than the IFRA code.

If the EU's "26 allergens" legislation is disputable, will the pending bill acknowledge and adjust to this?

No, it won't. In 2012, the SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety), an independent advisory body to the Commission, produced an opinion, the "Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products", in which over 100 additional individual substances and natural extracts have been identified as established or likely contact allergens. The SCCS also identified primary and secondary prevention measures, from prohibition to information, that could limit or eliminate exposure to fragrance allergens. For an overview of the opinion, refer to the SCCS's online presentation.

What is the problem with labeling?

Clearly most consumers would favour declaration over prohibition/restriction. EU legislation pushes for transparency of ingredients in consumer products. This, however, puts considerable pressure on the fragrance industry for the following reasons. Most SME's (small and medium-sized enterprises) fear they will not be able to stand the cost that extensive declaration entails, which threatens to put them out of business.
Furthermore, there is no sufficient legal ground to claim intellectual property of a fragrance formula. The IFRA expressed this dilemma for instance in this article: "Products such as (...) fine fragrances all contain a fragrance formula" but "legally it is considered as 'artisanal' and therefore cannot be protected. Because of this, historically the fragrance industry has closely guarded the secrets of its formulae".

What does this imply for perfumery?

Implementing the SCCS opinion without significant alteration will gravely damage perfumery because it restricts the panoply of scent severely. According to IFRA estimate, some 9,000 perfumes would have to be reformulated if their production is not ceased entirely. "If this law goes ahead I am finished, as my perfumes are all filled with these ingredients," said Frederic Malle. The impact on luxury perfume brands as a whole would, he said, be "like an atomic explosion and we would not have the means to rebuild ourselves."

Status of the amendment

Public consultation commence in February 2014. Taking the consultations on fragrance allergens into account, the proposed changes to the Cosmetics Regulation will be subject to a vote by the Member States in the standing Committee on Cosmetics. Once the measures are approved by the Member States, the European Parliament and the Council will have three months to exercise their right of scrutiny. If the proposal is not opposed, the formal adoption of those changes is expected at the end of 2014/beginning 2015.

What can be done?

There are two ways to fight a pending bill. Petition/collection of signatures and provision of a letter template with a well-conceived argument as to why consumers oppose it. I doubt it would be without any effect on the decision of the representatives in Council and Parliament, if a significant number of fragrance lovers from the EU were to get in touch with their reps and voiced their stance. After all, one can surely assume that re-election is in their interest.

Update, February 13, 2014

The European Commission propose that:
1. The three substances which were found to be unsafe should be banned from cosmetic products,
2. Additional allergens should be subject to the obligation of individual labelling on the package of a cosmetic product. In other words, they have to be mentioned in the list of ingredients, in addition to the words 'parfum' or 'aroma'.

For further details please refer to Public consultation on fragrance allergens.
Last edited by MiaTrost on 21.02.2014, 18:42; edited 65 times in total
9 years ago
MiaTrost:
It is yet not clear what legislation the Commission is going to come up with and whether or not the European Parliament (lower house) and EU Council (upper house) are going to pass it without any changes. I merely wonder if it would indeed be without any effect on the MEP's decision, if a significant number of fragrance connoisseurs from the EU were to get in touch with their representatives and voiced their stance. After all, one can surely assume that their interest is reelection amongst others.

Mia, I think it's a fine idea. You'll remember that back in March we were trying to tackle this issue via a Facebook group. At that time it was suggested to me by a very vocal advocate against the proposed legislation that the best way for the public to get involved was to contact members of EU commission and MEPs with their concerns. Americans, though lacking any direct influence, were nonetheless advised to address the EU commission with their intent to bypass IFRA-compliant European houses in favor of American indies that embrace natural perfumery; the thought being that the potential loss of substantial American dollars to the European fragrance industry might be a persuasive motivator.

Perhaps we could collaborate on this? I'd be willing to help draft some letters if you could stir up some interest on the German side.
9 years ago
Cryptic:
Perhaps we could collaborate on this? I'd be willing to help draft some letters if you could stir up some interest on the German side.

Excellent, thank you Cryptic! Besides the German site - ideally someone more established over there than I, would join in to promote this approach - there is a potentially suited group at BN, which we might consider too, and maybe Fragrantica as well. What do you think?
9 years ago
How clever of you! Obviously, the more people exposed to the message the better, and utilizing the three different sites to get the word out is rather inspired.

I don't know if the best approach to Basenotes would be to address the subgroup you linked, however. It appears there hasn't been any recent activity there and consequently a thread in a more active section of the forum might be a better option, don't you think?

Fragrantica I understand a bit better than Basenotes, having spent far more time there. My suggestion would be to start a topic in the "Vintage" section because it moves slower than the "Women's Perfume" section, and therefore the topic would be less apt to fall off the page in a matter of hours. Moreover, vintage lovers strike me as likely to make up a large percentage of our target audience.

Many thanks for your input!
9 years ago
Good point, this BN group is not exactly lively and may hence not be ideal to get the word out. Will pursue a different approach. Cool
Fragrantica's vintage section appears to be an excellent choice. Clever manoeuvre!

As for the email, I believe there is still quite some research to be done on our part, before we can come up with a version fit to be sent. We need to have a well-conceived argument as to why the MEPs ought to oppose legislation based on the SCCS's opinion. And for this we need expertise not only on law but chemistry and economics as well.
9 years ago
A big TIA to Cryptic and Mia.
9 years ago
Maybe we should just sign a collective petition instead of sending individual letters that are easily ignored?
I'm not sure about the EU and US, but in my country if a petition is signed by a minimum of 100'000 people, it's mandatory for the parliament to at least consider it. Surely there are more than a hundred thousand people across the fragrance boards who are against this massacre of perfumery.
Change.org seems to be a good platform to start, what do you think?
9 years ago
Here's a petition to sign if you're interested. It was created by Cropwatch, and the head of that organization was the person who suggested that individual letters to the pertinent EU commission were the way to go. Wink

www.ipetitions.com/petition/ifra40/?utm_medium =email&utm_source=system&utm_campaign=Send%2Bt o%2BFriend
People With Allergies Do Not Wear Perfume 9 years ago
Here's a link to my manifesto on this topic:

PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES DO NOT WEAR PERFUME

salondeparfum-sherapop.blogspot.com/2012/05/pe ople-with-allergies-do-not-wear.html
Twisted Evil
9 years ago
Sherapop, some really good points, especially on BHT! Are there any sources aside of Wikipedia on it? Any theories as to why it's pushed?

It's a shame though that friend of mine cannot stand me wearing "Coromandel", even though she is fine with everything else I've used in her presence and uses some perfume herself. But then again some light sneezing just the once is probably not enough to turn a person off perfume Smile
9 years ago
I've often wondered about the actual safety of the chemical replacements being required by the IFRA for the allergins being replaced.

Has anyone seen any articles on this subject? I did read about the BHT.

In general though, it seems to me when a chemical is created to replace a naturally occurring substance, how can it be adequately tested to assure that it is indeed safer than the substance being replaced? Assuming some testing is being done, how could the testing have been for long term side effects? Many natural substances have been used for over 100 years. How long do they test these chemicals? Some of the natural substances being replaced were used by individuals for 70 and 80 years. They can't possibly be testing the effects of using these chemicals for 70 or 80 years because if they did they would still be in the early stages of testing.

I remember when margarine was healthy, avocado and nuts were unhealthy and fattening, fatty fish like salmon was considered inferior to lean fish.

I think some of us are going to be really upset in 20 or 30 years when we find out that some of these chemicals are less healthy than the natural substances they are replacing. What if "irritants" are being replaced with (as yet unknown) carcinogens? What if long term absorption of these chemicals through the skin ends up increasing your odds of getting Alzhimers? Or Arthritis? or Parkinsons?

Think of how many drugs have had to be recalled over the years because it turns out they had unknown side effects or were just plain dangerous. They were all "tested" before being released. By drug companies that sponsored their testing.

I don't trust the testing of these chemical replacements to be truly objective and thorough.
the BHT mystery 9 years ago
Sweetgrass:
Sherapop, some really good points, especially on BHT! Are there any sources aside of Wikipedia on it? Any theories as to why it's pushed?

Sorry Sweetgrasss, I don't have any more info on the topic. I assume that "the powers that be" in the fragrance industry have decided to throw a dollop of BHT into everything. All of the perfumes produced by both Coty Prestige and by LVMH now list BHT among their ingredients when the same houses (Guerlain, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Acqua di Parma, the list goes on and on...) did not formerly.

Others (independents, but also some others...) still do not. I steer clear of both of those conglomerates for aesthetic reasons, but the BHT remains an unsolved mystery for me at this point...

Mad
8 years ago
ChapeauClack:
Maybe we should just sign a collective petition instead of sending individual letters that are easily ignored?

There is some serious effort to come up with a petition to be addressed to either the European Parliament or Commission in order to oppose the pending bill based on the SCCS's opinion. It started on parfumo.de, so all content is in German: www.parfumo.de/forum/viewforum.php?f=20&sid=df 1810e27761596e5ad1531b1e25ad27

I do think the petition is an honourable attempt but doubt that it will yield any result if addressed to the Commission. The collaborative efforts of Cropwatch/Tony Burfield and Anya McCoy (Anya's Gardens Perfumes) grew legs in the 2007-2010 time frame, culminating with Mr. Burfield gaining audience before the relevant EU Commission Committee. To my knowledge, they basically heard him out and, in the end, did not bend much, if at all.

My knowledge of politics may be limited to Germany, but I have learned that representatives tend to take letters from their constituents serious. That's why I believe an email template with good arguments as to why the SCCS's Opinion on fragrance allergens is no adequate basis for policy - which can be used by EU citizens to mail to their reps in Council & European Parliament - is far more likely to have an impact. Particularly with regard to many MEPs having recently become quite keen to interpose their democratically legitimised authority towards the Commission - the body that was not impressed by Mr. Burfield's arguments - I am convinced that this is the only option we have to put a stop to it.

What is your opinion? Petition, mailing representatives directly or both?
Last edited by MiaTrost on 06.02.2014, 09:40; edited 8 times in total
8 years ago
I don't think there's any question that a letter from a constituent makes much more of an impression on a legislator than a petition. Any politician's first priority is to retain his/her seat in office, and a personal letter implying a withdrawal of support if the constituent's needs are ignored is going to be much more compelling than a page full of signatures.

What can I do to help you, Mia? If you'd like me to ghost write a form letter in English I'll be happy to, if that would help at all.

If any of the German members happen to be fluent in Italian, there is a Parliament member who is sympathetic to our side of this issue and should be contacted. He may be able to come up with additional suggestions as to how we should proceed. Let me know and I'll be glad to PM you the gentleman's name.
8 years ago
Cryptic:
If you'd like me to ghost write a form letter in English I'll be happy to, if that would help at all.

If any of the German members happen to be fluent in Italian, there is a Parliament member who is sympathetic to our side of this issue and should be contacted. He may be able to come up with additional suggestions as to how we should proceed. Let me know and I'll be glad to PM you the gentleman's name.

Thank you so much for offering to help! Yes, both would be much appreciated. I will PM you. xoxo
8 years ago
Cross posting from "That Stinks":

Mia, having thought this over today it dawned on me that although it would be fantastic to have detailed letters prepared and sent, perhaps we should also have a fallback strategy. Since we don't have the luxury of time, I'd suggest sending brief letters followed up by the in-depth ones you describe. The direct approach appeals to me: "As your constituent, I need to know your position on this very ill-conceived piece of legislation which has the potential to cause serious damage to the European fragrance industry. Please advise so that I may be guided in casting future votes for your seat." < I recognize that the Europeans may view this wording as churlish, but it could certainly be toned down. I do think it gets the point across.
8 years ago
Cross posting as well:
I believe we need to convince MEPs and therefore I am not sure if it would help to push them into forming an opinion before we had a chance to make a case.

Update from the discussion on .de: status progressing. The next step is to form a work stream to get on with the content of petition and email template. Until someone better suited wants to take over coordination, I will be doing this. Shocked

This is not intended to be a German initiative. To the contrary, everyone is more than welcome to join, no matter if EU citizen or not.
We are going to need expertise, contacts to MEPs and pertinent politicians in the EU, to perfumers/houses, ideally to the RIFM, etc. any input suited to make a solid case. Also, since the EU is multilingual, translation may be needed in future. If you would like to join, please let us know. Very Happy

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
~ Mahatma Gandhi (alleged)
Last edited by MiaTrost on 23.01.2014, 16:28; edited 2 times in total
8 years ago
You'll be fine Mia. Holler if you need a hand. Here's a link that might be helpful. It is a scholarly article that concludes, "In short, many persons are allergic to fragrances (ie, have positive patch-test reactions), but few of these individuals have clinical allergies to fragrances (allergic contact dermatitis). When we dermatologists advise our patients to avoid all fragranced products on the basis of a very weak positive (maybe irritant) fragrance mix patch-test reaction, we deprive them of one of life's pleasures."

www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_1
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_2
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_3
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_4
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_5
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_6
www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559985_7
8 years ago
Go Mia! I love the Gandhi quote so much.

Here's a plain English rebuttal by the fragrance industry of a number of spurious arguments:

www.today.com/id/40429136/t/response-internati onal-fragrance-association-claims-made-no-more -dirty-looks/#.UuFUA5PnZkZ

What further specific research do you guys need? I'm sitting here with access to some cool toys and search engines, so let me know.
8 years ago
Great material, Cryptic!!

I registered you into the work steam (Arbeitsgruppe in German) for contacts & research. Very Happy
www.parfumo.de/forum/viewtopic.php?p=322971#32 2971
8 years ago
I think I may have mentioned Oreste Rossi? He is the MEP who asked a lot of skeptical questions about the allergen legislation. Perhaps someone fluent in Italian could drop him a line? He may be willing to offer some advice concerning how to go about tackling his colleagues on this issue. It certainly couldn't hurt to try.

His contact info:

www.oresterossi.it/

His Parliamentary questions:

www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef= -%2F%2FEP%2F%2FTEXT+WQ+E-2012-010718+0+DOC+XML +V0%2F%2FEN
8 years ago
I see Apicius and Don are now on board. Well done, Dr. Pablo, Mia and the rest. *applauds*
8 years ago
Thank you, Cryptic! I will pass it on to peeps more deserving than I re petition.

We posted who's in the work stream and what topics need to be dealt with.
@ all, if you'd like to join and support us, please let me know.
Last edited by MiaTrost on 05.02.2014, 07:59; edited 2 times in total
8 years ago
Thanks Mia, I'm sending a cyber ((((( hug )))))
Last edited by Cincy on 06.02.2014, 00:31; edited 1 time in total
8 years ago
Vmarshmellow:
.. the chemical replacements being required by the IFRA for the allergins being replaced.

The companies that are members of IFRA do not want to replace naturals with "chemicals". In fact, they have all heavily invested in natural-ingredients companies, establishing sustainable sources, etc. And naturals are essential in fine fragrance if only for PR purposes. Of course, fine fragrance is a very small part of the big labs' income.

Vmarshmellow:
I think some of us are going to be really upset in 20 or 30 years when we find out that some of these chemicals are less healthy than the natural substances they are replacing. What if "irritants" are being replaced with (as yet unknown) carcinogens? What if long term absorption of these chemicals through the skin ends up increasing your odds of getting Alzheimer's? Or Arthritis? or Parkinson's?

Think of how many drugs have had to be recalled over the years because it turns out they had unknown side effects or were just plain dangerous. They were all "tested" before being released. By drug companies that sponsored their testing.

This scenario is not unlikely, I'd assume, simply because of lack of knowledge. However, if we were to put this forward as an argument for reasonable doubt, we'd have to substantiate it. And that is the crux because there are no data on future events. And falsifying research findings you are talking big money for an uncertain outcome ..
Last edited by MiaTrost on 12.02.2014, 13:40; edited 1 time in total
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