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IDEA Project – The Cosmetics Industry Aims at Better Understanding Fragrance Allergens in the EU
Allergenic fragrances are under the spotlight as Europe’s IDEA project seeks to build on SCCS recommendations on the individual labeling and prohibition of certain natural and synthetic substances in cosmetic products.
Once triggered, an allergy is a lifelong condition. The symptoms will re-appear if the person is exposed to the same substance again.
Fragrance Allergens – Elements of Definition
Since 2003, 26 fragrance allergens have had to be identified on the label of consumer products, to help inform end-users of the presence of substances to which they are sensitized. Following research by the EC’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), the Commission is now proposing to ban three fragrances, HICC, atranol and chloroatranol, as they can no longer be considered safe. Since 1999 there have been about 1,500 reported cases of fragrance allergy to HICC and between 100 and 1,000 cases for each of the other two substances (atranol and chloroatranol)
EU Cosmetics Regulation on Fragrance Allergens
EU Regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetic products regulates fragrance allergens. Those that are restricted or banned are listed in Annex II, or Annex III, respectively.
Fragrance Allergies and Allergen Review
In 2012, the SCCS completed a review of fragrance allergens in cosmetics products, the first review of this category since 2003, which covered skin (also called: contact) allergens, not respiratory allergens. As a result of the review, the SCCS found that:
- 3 allergens (HICC, atranol and chloroatranol)
- 82 substances can now be categorized as ‘established contact allergens’, including the 26 that were already on the list.
- 26 individual chemicals can be categorized as ‘likely contact allergens’.
- 48 chemicals (including 13 natural extracts) can also be categorized as ‘possible contact allergens’.
The SCCS recommended that all these substances be added to the list of allergenic ingredients that must be included on the labeling of consumer products. The EU cosmetics regulation 1223/2009 may be amended with the aim of protecting consumers against fragrance allergens while taking into account the social and economic impact of these measures on the European fragrance industry.
The Commission’s proposal, taking into account the results of the public consultation (http://ec.europa.eu/
IDEA Project to Improve Cosmetics Industry Knowledge on Fragrance Allergens
The SCCS opinion on fragrance allergens, delivered in 2012, was a real eye-opener for the cosmetics industry. It highlighted a communication gap between the regulators, manufacturers and the supply chain, and consequently, a huge knowledge gap on fragrance allergens, specifically how to characterize, assess and diagnose them.
To address this gap, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) developed a work plan of what should be done to improve the risk assessment of fragrance allergens and submitted it to the EU. Endorsed by Tonio Borg, EU Minister for Health, the plan, now known as the International Dialogue for the Evaluation of Allergens (IDEA project (www.ideaproject.info))
IDEA consists of a series of workshops bringing leading international scientists together to reach consensus on improving existing methodologies. Recommendations made during workshops are then developed through industry or research projects. Annual reviews monitor and validate the project’s progress and are used to define the project’s future actions.
About SGS Cosmetic Solutions
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