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Allergen rethink called for at IFRA fragrance workshop

By Guy Montague-Jones , 18-Nov-2008
Last updated on 18-Nov-2008 at 13:56 GMT

European regulations on skin allergens should be reconsidered, according to a leading authority on skin sensitization at an IFRA workshop on allergy prevalence in fragrance.

Currently there are 26 fragrance ingredients that are considered to be allergens and must be labeled under EU law, but Professor Axel Schnuch from the University of Goettingen cast doubt on the value of the list.

After carrying out extensive patch tests Professor Schnuch concluded that there were significant differences between the ingredients.

He told the delegates at the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) workshop: “There are obviously fragrance ingredients among the 26 which are, with regard to contact allergy, of great, others of minor, and some of no importance at all.”

Call for revision of allergen list

Summing up, Professor Schnuch said many of the 26 ingredients were of little concern and that it was time for the list to be revised in the light of fresh data.

Other notable presentations at the IFRA workshop included a talk from Dr. Barbara Hall of Sureconsult on self-regulation in the fragrance industry.

Hall said the fragrance industry understood that effective self-regulation is necessary to avoid health concerns and ensure the confidence of customers.

Furthermore, Hall claimed that unlike governmental authorities self-regulatory bodies such as IFRA are able to keep up with the speed of new scientific developments.

Dermatologists and industry must work together

However, the director of Sureconsult said the industry needed to co-operate more closely with dermatologists.

Hall said dermatologists often fail to look at the formulation of fragrances that cause allergies in patients. They perform mix tests and advise patients to avoid fragrances altogether rather than carry out more expensive patch tests.

As a result fragrance manufacturers are left without feedback on which ingredients are likely to have provoked allergic reactions.

Hall said IFRA runs an information scheme for dermatologists should they need fragrance ingredient information. Co-operation initiatives such as this were called for from both sides to create a healthy flow of information.

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