4 January 2013
Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117
Cristiana Muscardini (ECR)
Subject: A bergamot-tinged war? Answer(s)
Here we go again, according to some newspaper reports. The lobbies of certain chemical industries are declaring, via the European Union, that between 1 % and 3 % of the European population are 'potentially' allergic to some ingredients found in perfumes. The proposal to reduce the concentration of essential oils from 12 % to 0.01 % would sound the death knell for bergamot and would see this traditional product disappear from Calabria, the only region in the world that is able to produce this citrus fruit, from which the oils that form the base of many perfumes are extracted. One is tempted to say: 'Here we go again!'
There was an attempt, in the past, to stop pizzas from being cooked in wood-fired ovens, for health reasons. There was also an attempt to harm the production of chocolate eggs containing a 'surprise', this time for reasons to do with the safety of children, who could have swallowed the small 'surprise' objects. Now another attempt is being made with a natural production process that is unique in the world and concentrated along a coastal strip, around 80 km long and 10 km wide, in the region of Calabria. That means that 650 farms, 7 000 workers and 1 300 hectares used for plant production are affected, not to mention the numerous perfume houses that use bergamot essence to establish a fragrance's bouquet.
The industry would like to replace this natural product with a synthetic product, which obviously has nothing to do with the Citrus Bergamia Risso citrus fruit, better known as bergamot.
1. Can the Commission confirm whether the news is true?
2. Does it really intend to support the arguments put forward by certain chemical manufacturers, against a natural product that has kept the perfume industry going for centuries without ever being harmful to health?
3. Can it say whether bergamot essence is patented or recognised by the various EU arrangements for recognising protected origin?
4. Does it not believe that the tea industry will also be compromised, given that bergamot peel is used for the aromatic Earl Grey blend?
[Original language of question: Italian]
Answer given by Commissioner Tonio Borg on behalf of the Commission (14.2.2013)
The Commission would like to clarify, in response to the first question, that an opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products was issued in June 2012 by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). This opinion updates the list of fragrance allergens (including natural extracts) relevant to consumers, while confirming that the 26 fragrance allergens already regulated in the Cosmetics Directive are still of concern.
The Commission is currently reflecting on how to implement this opinion so that it contributes to consumer information and safety in the most adequate and proportionate way, while maintaining innovation and the competitiveness of the cosmetics sector. To this end, it is thoroughly assessing the social (in terms of protection of consumers, availability of products and employment) and economic impacts of possible options, taking into account also vigilance data and additional elements of consumer exposure.
As for the third question, Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria Olio essenziale is registered at EU level as a Protected Designation of Origin in the group of essential oils.
In relation to the fourth question, the Commission is aware that some food flavourings when used as fragrances in cosmetics may be dermal sensitizers. However, there is generally no concern on allergic reaction via oral exposure. The Commission does not therefore believe that the tea industry risks to be compromised. |
|Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products, OJ L 262, 27.9.1976, p. 169.|
||Commission Regulation (EC) No 509/2001 of 15 March 2001 supplementing the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 2400/96 on the entry of certain names in the 'Register of protected designations or origin and protected geographical indications' provided for in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs, OJ L 76, 16.3.2001, p. 7.|
You can draw your own conclusions.
For what is worth, here is an interview with Stephen Welter from IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) from July 2012 where he maintains that the premium goal is the ensuring of safety for consumers (and where it transpires that IFRA is the final testing body which receives applications/suggestions on banning things from SCCS and other lobbies).
This is a most interesting excerpt from it, as per Stephen Weller:
"IFRA has in fact delivered some very positive results. Far from banning certain materials, IFRA has in fact been protecting them from potential bans. A material such as oak-moss would have disappeared if it hadn’t been for IFRA. The EU would have abolished it. In fact, thanks to IFRA’s work, many materials are still capable of being utilised as part of the palette of more that 3000 materials which perfumers can employ in their creative art. There are restrictions on the use of some substances but these are justified when balanced with the safe enjoyment of fragrances for all."
The text of the Parliament question can be found on this link.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Allergens and Perfume Industry Restrictions, The Bergamot Series
Poached this reference on the Fragrantica boards via member Kitty48