Setting the Standard for the Safe Use of Fragrance Materials

The IFRA Standards are the basis of the fragrance industry’s system for ensuring the safe use and enjoyment of fragrance materials.

This self-regulatory system sets rules for the use of nearly 200 fragrance materials, including:

  • bans on the use of some materials (Prohibition);
  • rules on the quantities or maximum dose to be used or the products in which certain materials can be used (Restriction); or
  • other conditions on the type of material (Specification).

As with the Code of Practice, the system applies to all IFRA members, covering approximately 90 per cent of the global fragrance industry by production volume.

In all cases the final responsibility for the safe use of any fragrance material put on the market rests with the company supplying the material.

Trusting the Standards

An independent Expert Panel for Fragrance Safety oversees the safety assessment process to ensure that it is scientifically robust.

The members of the Expert Panel include renowned independent figures from scientific fields such as dermatology, toxicology, pathology and environmental sciences.

The Panel evaluates data on a fragrance material and checks whether that data supports current use levels.

Safety is the overriding consideration: the Panel seeks to ensure that fragrance materials are subject to appropriate safety assessments.

And the Expert Panel can act swiftly and decisively: in cases where the safety assessment does not support current use, the Panel instructs IFRA to issue a Standard either restricting, banning or setting specifications for a material so that it can be used safely.

Importantly, the final decision on the content of the Standard is solely in the hands of the Expert Panel, not IFRA or RIFM – adding an additional layer of independence.

Understanding the Standards

The IFRA Standards set the maximum dose of a fragrance ingredient in finished consumer goods. They are primarily a tool for use by IFRA members in their daily work.

The typical user is a perfumer or someone else with a technical, regulatory or scientific background – and so the format and language of the Standards is written with this audience in mind.

However, we believe that it is an important part of our self-regulatory role to be transparent about the Standards we apply – which is why all of the Standards are available on this website.

Reading the Standards

Given their intended audience, some of the information presented can seem confusing or hard-to-understand for non-experts. We believe it is important to keep the information brief and relevant for a technical audience – but also to give a wider audience the chance to understand what information is in a Standard, and why.

Given their intended audience, some of the information presented can seem confusing or hard-to-understand for non-experts. We believe it is important to keep the information brief and relevant for a technical audience – but also to give a wider audience the chance to understand what information is in a Standard, and why.

Here is a short explainer of the key information contained in a typical Standard:

Basic information: the chemical name of the fragrance material, any synonyms, an illustration of the molecular structure, and the CAS, or Chemical Abstracts Service, number – a unique identifier applied to different chemical structures.

It is important to note that ‘chemicals’ do not only mean laboratory creations. They include fragrance materials from the natural world too.

History: a summary of IFRA’s assessments of the fragrance material, including when the material is due for further review based on the latest scientific understanding.

Recommendation: the type of Standard being applied:

  • Prohibition (a ban)
  • Restriction (allowing use only at certain levels or in certain products)
  • Specification (adding rules such as purity criteria)

Restrictions: maximum permitted concentration levels of the substance in different product types. The product types are set out in the Standards guidance documents.

Critical effect: why we are taking action and issuing a Standard – this is the health effect that we seek to avoid through a Prohibition, Restriction or Specification.

Nearly 500 years ago, Swiss physician and chemist Paracelsus expressed the basic principle of toxicology: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

That is why we sometimes apply a Prohibition (when evidence shows that it would be difficult to ensure safe use at any relevant level) and sometimes a Restriction or Specification (when evidence shows that a material is safe to use, but within limits).

RIFM summaries: additional information provided by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, reporting on its studies and findings.

Rationale / conclusion: additional explanations by the independent Fragrance Safety Panel.

Our commitment to safe use

The IFRA Code of Practice is the global fragrance industry’s commitment to providing products that are safe for consumers and respect the environment.

The Code applies to all IFRA members, whether they are Regular Members or Members of National Associations. This covers approximately 90 per cent of the global fragrance industry by production volume.

It is also shared with regulatory bodies and other stakeholders and recognized in regulations or guidance documents issued by authorities around the world.

The Code covers the manufacture and handling of all fragrance materials, for all types of applications.

The majority of client companies (including producers of fine fragrance, personal care products and household products) expect their fragrances to comply with IFRA Standards as set out in the Code.

Amendments to the Code and the Standards are based on new scientific developments. These amendments may include new or modified Standards.

Resources:

http://fragrancesafetypanel.org/

http://fragrancematerialsafetyresource.elsevier.com/

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.