Exclusive: Perfume-makers fear EU legal blow to industry

Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:11pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - Perfume-makers are urging the European Commission to back down from possible legislation they fear could kill top fragrances by restricting natural ingredients linked to allergies, industry sources say.

Luxury brands fear the EU could force them to change formulas across the $24.3 billion premium fragrance industry, altering some of the world's most iconic scents, such as Chanel No. 5, created in 1921.

Hundreds of perfumes, including Miss Dior and many Guerlain scents, would have to be reformulated if the EU executive turns into law the recommendations issued in July by the advisory Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS).

Companies say the scents of leading brands would never smell the same, and perfume-creators would be left in future with a much smaller palette of ingredients.

"It would be the end of beautiful perfumes if we could not use these ingredients," Francoise Montenay, non-executive chairwoman of Chanel, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The committee estimates 1-3 percent of people in Europe are allergic or potentially allergic to ingredients found in perfumes - a number it considers high enough to justify concern.

"All citizens are entitled to the same protection," SCCS Working Group chairman Ian White, from London's St John's Institute of Dermatology, told Reuters.

It recommended restricting the concentration of 12 substances - including citral, found in lemon and tangerine oils; coumarin, found in tropical tonka beans; and eugenol, found in rose oil - to 0.01 percent of the finished product.   Continued...