Evolving Challenges in the Regulatory Landscape of the Fragrance Development Industry

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Across numerous industries, manufacturers are dealing with increasing consumer demand for transparency in new and diverse ways. Food and beverage producers, for example, have adopted “clean and clear” labels to maintain customer confidence in their products. Within the last few years, fragrance manufacturers have begun to face similar consumer expectations and are responding accordingly.

In February, Procter & Gamble released a list of chemicals they do not use in their fragrance products. Meanwhile, SC Johnson became the first major company to reveal 100% of its fragrance ingredients for a new product collection. Rather than using the umbrella term “natural fragrance,” they have broken every ingredient down to individual chemical components.
Lonza is taking a different approach. The company has created a Preferred Fragrance Program (PFP). By partnering with four fragrance suppliers to compile a selection of EPA-registered fragrances, they ensure that manufacturers can choose pre-approved scent formulas which fit their needs.
Within this consumer demand for transparency and safer ingredients, how can we determine—and guarantee—that safety? The debate against animal testing is not a new one, but there is renewed commitment to finding alternatives. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has announced that identifying alternatives to animal testing is one of their top priorities. They are actively seeking a way to integrate non-animal data when assessing the potency of products. The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) has further supported this move with a grant to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc. (IIVS). The grant will allow researchers to develop non-animal testing methods that can accurately determine levels of respiratory irritation caused by fragrance products.
Government agencies are also becoming more engaged with the industry to support product safety. Recently, a NY Assembly member met with leaders from Bell Flavors & Fragrances and the International Fragrance Association of North America (IFANA) to learn about the industry. The passing of the Frank F. Lautenberg Chemical Safety of the 21st Century Act in December 2015 provides much-needed updates to U.S. chemical safety laws, offering protection to consumers while encouraging manufacturers to remain globally competitive. The Environmental Protection Agency has launched its “Safer Chemicals in Cleaning Products” campaign. A searchable product database is available on the EPA website, and a “Safer Choices” label helps inform consumers when shopping.
Much of the regulatory response has resulted from consumer demand. Those consumers want natural, sustainable sources. This can be problematic given the vague definitions and lack of regulation for the word “natural.” Nevertheless, the fragrance industry is developing its own definition, based on how “natural” oils are derived; those extracted with petroleum products, for instance, do not meet the minimum standards for that definition. Fragrance manufacturers advise consumers not to be swayed by the use of “natural” on a product label, but to instead seek out products carrying the Natural Products Association seal guaranteeing ingredients from renewable resources with no petroleum compounds.
The industry discussed the complexity of these issues, and the steps being taken to meet consumer demand, in June at the 2016 World Perfumery Congress. We encourage you review the response at the WPC page.