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Parliamentary questions
23 November 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Oreste Rossi (EFD)

 Subject:  New restrictions for allergens in perfumes and natural substances: disproportionate measures for the European market and distortion of competition

For several months, the Commission has been consulting the public on several issues relating to the ingredients used in cosmetic products. After the public consultations (regulated by Decision 2008/721/EC) on the preliminary opinions of the scientific committees, the Commission will consult the Member States in order to adopt the most suitable measures. The scientific investigation conducted in 1999 showed that 1-3 % of the European population suffered from allergic reactions to the ingredients contained in perfumes. The Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) then identified an initial list of 26 ingredients considered allergenic. These substances had been regulated by the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC, then by the Detergents Regulation (EC) No 2004/648/EC and by the Toys Directive 2009/48/EC, and have to appear individually in the list of ingredients on the label, in order to improve the diagnosis of allergies and to enable consumers allergic to those ingredients to identify products. Understanding of sensitisation caused by fragrance ingredients has improved significantly since then, leading the Commission to ask the current Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) to re-examine the available evidence in order to update the SCCNFP’s 1999 opinion. The preliminary opinion (SCCS/1459/11) identified 100 ingredients (compared with 26) that may cause allergic reactions. In particular, it ‘bans’ a range of ingredients found in perfumes and in natural substances/natural essential oils that can be defined as contact allergens in humans, on the basis of clinical tests with limited evidence of allergenicity. The following products are included: cinnamaldehyde, musk derivatives (such as musk ambrette and oakmoss), sandalwood, amylcinnamaldehyde, citronella, eugenol, isoeugenol, geraniol. Together with these ingredients, which would rightly be banned, it is also planned to introduce a minimum tolerated percentage of 0.01 % for the listed substances.

Considering that cosmetics are an irreplaceable part our lifestyle and the art of perfumery is typified by a very complex and expensive production process, I would ask the Commission:
whether these restrictions on natural substances actually have the opposite effect of encouraging the use of synthetic substances produced in the laboratory;
whether these restrictions, on the basis of the principles of reasonableness and proportionality, take due account of the economic impact on competition and the market for these products, distorting direct and indirect costs for businesses;
whether the measures should instead focus more on the provenance and distribution channels of perfumes that are bought, since cosmetics produced in China or in unregulated non-EU countries, and which are thus much less safe, are currently available on the market?
Original language of question: ITOJ C 317 E, 31/10/2013
Last updated: 11 December 2012Legal notice