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Consultation on fragance allergens

The European Commission might include new measures for fragrance allergens

The European Commission has recently launched an open consultation on fragrance allergens to respond to new allergic reactions to certain cosmetics. To date, legislation regulating cosmetic products provides that perfume should be listed as ingredient under the words “parfum” or “aroma”, while a total of 26 fragrance allergens should be explicitly mentioned. However, the number or allergens might increase in the coming months, based on the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) 2012 opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products that takes into account new reactions among users.

EFA welcomes this initiative as consumers, especially people with allergy, should be able to make better informed choices. It is estimated that in Europe, reactions against cosmetics affect 1 to 3% of the population and 16% of eczema patients (read here for more information on perfume allergy). We use these products to make us look good and feel clean, but the allergic reactions may impact quality of life, loss of productivity and worse health outcomes.

Some people experience itching, burning or stinging within minutes of using a product. Adverse reactions to fragrances in perfumes and cosmetic products include allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, photosensitivity, immediate contact reactions (contact urticaria), and pigmented contact dermatitis.

At EFA, we are however disappointed to see that the SCCS opinion and the Commission consultation only cover contact allergens, excluding respiratory allergens. Airborne and connubial contact dermatitis are also reactions to cosmetics and exposure to fragrances may exacerbate pre-existing asthma. Therefore, we encourage the Commission to fill this gap that could be dangerous for people with allergy and respiratory diseases.

In addition to the potential new allergens, EFA encourages the Commission to regulate the mix of fragrances that could be more problematic that single products for allergic people. In this sense, allergic people would appreciate a system for reporting adverse reactions they experienced with cosmetics to their doctors and national authorities that deal with the implementation of the Regulation as this will ensure constant checks and periodic updates of the most harmful substances. The example of the pharmacovigilance system that is in place for the medicinal products could be followed and adopted both at the national and EU levels.

The complete EFA’s response to the Commission consultation can be found here.

1 Comment

  • EU Policy update

    May 30, 2014

    [...] has recently presented its position, in consultation with members on fragrance allergen on an open consultation held by the European [...]

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