Perfume makers stinking mad

  • 2002-08-15
  • Francoise Medgyesi, AFP, PARIS
The European Union wants perfume makers to reveal the exact contents of their fragrances in order to alert consumers who might be allergic to some ingredients, but French producers think the idea stinks.

In June, the European Parliament approved a directive aimed at banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, but the draft included a clause requiring fragrance makers to print the components of their scents on the bottle.

The move is aimed at helping allergy sufferers to choose aromas that will not cause them harm, but Han-Paul Bodifee, head of the perfume trade union Prodarom, said the move would only benefit fragrance copycats.

"This requirement is unrealistic, as between 100 and 150 different elements are needed to create a fragrance," Bodifiee told AFP. "But even worse, it would be suicide for producers as it would make it easier for counterfeiters."

Brussels has singled out 26 substances that could cause allergic reactions among perfume wearers, 16 of which are natural, such as lavender, lemon, orange or rose extracts.

But Bodifee insisted that listing ingredients on perfume bottle labels was unnecessary, as the amount of each one contained in the fragrance was not enough to make the wearer ill.

"We're going to provide proof that in 90 percent of all perfumes, the mixture of these natural essences is not enough to spark an allergic reaction," he explained.

According to the union leader, only one in every 25,000 people are allergic to fragrances.

And one industry analyst says banning natural substances from perfumes contradicts a European initiative aimed at developing the use of natural rather than synthetic odors.

But cosmetic firms are not taking any chances. Bodifiee said that several had already asked producers to eliminate substances included on the Brussels allergy hit list, or limit the amount of each used.