The EU Commission should protect health, AND the cultural asset perfumery:
We, the undersigned consumers, hereby voice our objection to the amendment currently proposed, which would render colourless the range of European perfumery.
Accordingly, we strongly oppose any further ingredients restrictions.
Please be advised that we, the undersigned, support the contribution by the “Consumers’ initiative for the protection of perfumes as a cultural asset“.1 This contribution has been presented as part of the public consultation on fragrance allergens pursuant to Regulation EC No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products.2, 3
With our signatures, we request that the decision-makers obtain a comprehensive perspective beyond the scope of the narrow confines of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) opinion.4 This broad and complete perspective must include the following considerations and interests:
- Consumer protection,
- Cultural identity,
- Economic considerations,
- Consumer interests above and beyond mere health and safety.
None would argue that consumer protection is an insignificant concern. Accordingly, we welcome the fact that EC No 1223/2009 put a stop to the undeclared use of potentially allergenic substances in cosmetic products. However, perfumery and its status as a cultural asset is necessarily jeopardised when the risk of an allergenic skin reaction is heavily overstated, as the reaction in question may be easily recognised and therefore avoided. More specifically:
- While studies have demonstrated that an allergic response to fragrance is an event which seldom occurs,5 the consumer is in the best position to observe any adverse reaction to a particular perfume when he or she uses it. Therefore, he or she may bypass any risk of an allergic event simply by avoiding the perfume in question.
- Research has demonstrated that it is impossible for an allergic event to be triggered through the use of perfume by a third party in proximity to a susceptible individual. The pertinent study, conducted by the German Federal Environment Agency [Bundesumweltamt], concluded that the mere act of inhaling potential contact allergens did not, in fact, result in the development of allergic symptoms by the test subjects.6, 7
Furthermore, the scientific grounds upon which the findings of the SCCS opinion were based are questionable in several respects. Specifically, the patch test results underlying the SCCS opinion do not bear any relationship to actual perfume use. In these tests, the potentially allergenic substance was administered at concentrations exceeding normal perfume application by far and was allowed to remain in contact with skin for 48 hours without the opportunity to evaporate. Under normal usage conditions, perfume evaporates within 24 hours and over the course of this period, its concentration decreases continuously. In conclusion, the simulations conducted in the research grounding the SCCS opinion are not an accurate predictor of the incidence of allergic reaction as the result of perfume use because they failed to reconstruct the conditions under which perfume is actually worn. For this reason, these studies grossly overstate the risk of a reaction in connection with perfume under realistic circumstances.8
Any regulation that conflates fine fragrances with other perfumed products diminishes the status of perfume by treating it in the same manner as something far less distinguished:
- Perfumery is an art form: cultural studies all over the globe increasingly recognise scent compositions as an art discipline, and museums for olfactory art are being opened. There exist perfumes which are comparable to simple artistry and perfumes which resemble highly sophisticated artistic compositions. In particular the latter would be substantially restricted, or even rendered impossible, should the regulation result in additional limits to the variety of perfumery.
- Perfumery acts as an ambassador of European cultural identity: it expresses regional characteristics (be they Maquis herbs, lavender of Provence, or fir of the Black Forest). Equally, perfumery bolsters a positive concept of national identity (e.g., characteristically French, Italian, or English). Likewise, traditional European perfumery epitomises a pan-European art (as distinguished from, e.g., the Middle Eastern tradition of fragrance).
- Perfumery is part of European cultural history, from the courtly handcrafted fragrances to bourgeois appropriation to democratisation of today. Participating in perfumery cannot be reduced to an extension of consumer market activity, but is, rather, a social development itself.
The existing regulation on cosmetics already limits the perfumer's range of ingredients and therefore artistic expression by banning certain substances and reducing the concentrations available for use of others. Further restrictions of the type currently proposed will not only continue this destructive trend (in regard to both, “simple artistry” and “artistic compositions”),9 but will also send a message that Europe has turned its back on an important aspect of its own rich cultural heritage.
From an economic point of view, the proposed legislation would have a detrimental impact on small and medium-sized businesses all across Europe. As the result of banning and restricting perfume materials, jobs would be lost as follows:
- In businesses producing fine fragrances10
- In enterprises producing aromatic substances and perfume oils11
- In agricultural businesses employed in raw materials extraction12
The certain and probable consequences of the current draft regulation are not acceptable.
In light of the highly manageable danger potential, we, the undersigned, wish to make our own decisions as to which perfumes, containing what ingredients, we shall use. There is no need to restrict freedom of choice for all consumers if the 1-3% affected by allergies are provided with sufficient information to enable them to knowingly avoid the risk of a skin rash. We want the variety of scent in perfumes to be retained, and to have a choice in the future.
PROTECTION OF EUROPEAN CULTURE,
PROTECTION OF EUROPEAN IDENTITY,
PROTECTION OF EUROPEAN HISTORY
(PAST, CURRENT AND FUTURE)
AND PROTECTION FROM HEALTH RISKS, ARE NOT CONTRADICTORY.
For example, in the case of the ingredient Lyral®
, which was objected to in the SCCS opinion, „causing allergies more often than other substances“ means that 2.7% of the participants of the study had a contact allergy (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21345163
In the search for a better solution, a more comprehensive examination beyond the SCCS opinion is required - as recognised by the European Commission, which already supports such a thorough approach via the IDEA project (http://www.ideaproject.info/about-idea
9 Three substances are currently scheduled to be prohibited under the proposed amendment (Lyral® and [Chloro-]Atranol, thereby oakmoss and treemoss). Further substances (including elementary substances such as Geraniol, Coumarin or Linalool) are to be labelled above the threshold of 0.001% in leave-on products. This miniscule allowance is tantamount to an outright ban in most cases, insofar as the concentration is so minute as to render the ingredient undetectable by the human nose in the finished product. A labelling requirement which demands that a trace amount of an ingredient be listed, is the first step toward a de facto ban, to the extent that the tiny concentration permitted is virtually undetectable. This would also affect about 90% of all essential oils because these substances are primary components.
10 In the event that a perfumer must substantially modify a perfume as the result of an ingredient restriction, he or she may not be able to afford to purchase an acceptable substitute or to have it produced at even greater cost. The product may then need to be withdrawn from the market as too costly to produce.
11 Smaller enterprises of the fragrance and perfume oil production industry will be disproportionately damaged by the possible cost increases set forth. Although the larger houses will also suffer, the small and medium-sized enterprises may ultimately be forced to close their doors in consequence of no longer being able to compete with the larger concerns.
12 Apart from the fact that Bulgarian rose fields and Corsican immortelle heaths enjoy the rank of cultural heritages in their respective countries, agriculture businesses are directly dependent on the demand for their harvesting. In the event that the perfume industry no longer required the production of natural raw materials, numerous jobs associated with the cultivation, harvest and transport of these materials would be lost.