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Would you scan a QR code to find out if a perfume contains allergens?

Chemical Pollution

Would you scan a QR code to find out if a perfume contains allergens?

Published on 08 Jan 2019

A couple of months ago, ChemSec wrote about the labelling of fragrance chemicals in the United States. Now, the question is up for discussion in the European Union.

In Europe, just as in the United States, fragrance compounds are listed on the product labels as a group, using the term “perfume” or “aroma”. However, in Europe there are 26 fragrance chemicals that are required to be listed as separate ingredients as they are well known allergens.

In 2012, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) argued that this requirement should be extended to an additional 62 ingredients.

“One proposal is to use e-labelling on the products”

One proposal, contained in a European Commission roadmap,  to include these additional fragrance chemicals is to use e-labelling on the products. Last week, the consultation on this proposal ended and it attracted a number of comments from various stakeholders with differing opinions.

“It is unfair and unrealistic to expect this from busy shoppers”

Industry groups, such as Cosmetics Europe and the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), were positive to the idea of using e-labelling as a measure to increase transparency.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), however, described the idea as a flawed approach and argued that it would be “unfair and unrealistic to expect busy shoppers to spend the extra time and effort to access information via QR codes, web links or bar codes for each cosmetic product they consider buying”.

BEUC instead urged the European Commission to establish on-pack labelling obligations for the additional 62 fragrance allergens, in other words, either declared on the product labels or through attached leaflets or tags.

The European Commission is preparing an impact assessment for public consultation in May this year.

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