Allergen rules may alter scents of great perfumes

Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:30pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Perfume makers, sniffers and vendors are upset over the International Fragrance Association's (IFRA) latest rules governing what can go into a scent's formula.

With the association aggressively seeking to reduce or eliminate allergens, some insiders say Chanel's iconic No. 5 perfume may be in danger.

"There are many unanswered questions, and I doubt that Chanel will ever speak the truth because this sensitive matter might affect sales and corporate image," said Octavian-Sever Coifan, a perfumer in Paris.

IFRA groups 90 percent of the world's fragrance houses and acts as the industry's main regulator, often issuing more aggressive safety standards than public watchdogs such as the European Union.

For member companies, compliance with IFRA is mandatory.

"There seems to be a steady build-up of regulatory rules," said Luca Turin, a scientist and perfume expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"All the legacy fragrances, these works of art, are being steadily destroyed," Turin said. "You aren't obliged to put airbags on a vintage car. Why do you with perfumes?"

A mild allergic reaction should not prevent great scents from being preserved, Turin said. After all, "to my knowledge perfume has never killed anyone," Turin said.   Continued...

<p>Customers buy cosmetics at the shopping arcade of the Four Seasons Macao hotel adjacent to the Venetian Macao hotel, which opened in Macau August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>