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Fragrance Safety and Evaluation

By: Matthias Vey
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The RIFM is funded by the fragrance industry and its customers. However, the scientific decisions are made by REXPAN, which is an independent panel of experts with no links to the fragrance industry whatsoever.

REXPAN (RIFM Expert Panel) is comprised of independent experts from fields such as dermatology, toxicology, pathology and environmental sciences. Its role is to evaluate the data on a fragrance ingredient to see if it supports the current use level, to make sure that there is no risk for the consumer. In cases where the safety assessment does not support the current use, REXPAN instructs IFRA to issue a standard either restricting or banning a material.

Stricter, Faster Than Government Regulation

Because of the fragrance industry’s highly developed code of practice, standards, compliance program and independent scientific evaluation, industry members can react far more quickly to any new findings than national, regional or global regulators. If a substance is found to cause an unacceptable risk to a consumer or the environment, the industry can immediately begin to withdraw or restrict the substance. This system provides peace of mind not only for consumers, who can enjoy fragrances safely, but also for personal care product manufacturers who require the highest standards of risk assessment for their products.

IFRA Standards are also stricter than many regulations, and are recognized by many as the highest level of regulation. The European Cosmetics Directive has introduced a number of IFRA Standards in its annexes. Brazilian policy makers have actually adopted the IFRA Standards into law, and the new South East Asia-Pacific (ASEAN) cosmetic directive—which took effect on Jan. 1, 2008—explicitly refers to the IFRA Standards where fragrances in cosmetic products are concerned. In addition, IFRA aims to have its standards officially recognized internationally—either through customer trade associations or by legislation—to help ensure a harmonized, consistent and effective level of safety for fragrance materials.

Matthias Vey is the scientific director of IFRA, located in Brussels, Belgium, responsible for the management of the fragrance industry’s worldwide self-regulatory program—including the IFRA Code of Practice and Standards for the safe use of fragrance ingredients. He manages all of IFRA’s science and regulatory related committees as well as the association’s compliance program, and is involved in IFRA’s crisis management system. A chemist by training, he trained as a perfumer and then started in fragrance research and development of Marbert Cosmetics in Düesseldorf, Germany, before becoming the global regulatory affairs manager of Coty/Lancaster.