Newspaper reports today have raised concerns that a number of perfumes, including Chanel No 5, could be banned in Europe, because they contain a number of potential allergens. It comes on the back of a scientific study which listed 100 potential new allergens - some of which are in popular perfumes.
So will it lead to a ban?
AllergensThe current rules effect just 26 ingredients. Even these are not banned in the EU, but if they are in a perfume then they have to be listed on the bottle so that people who are allergic to them can check if they will react to a scent.
The EU held a scientific review with a panel of experts, and they drew up a list of 100 ingredients which could potentially be harmful to some users. They suggested that some ought to be banned, while others should be limited.
In addition, they suggested that some popular ingredients ought to be limited in quantity so that they make no more than 0.01% of the perfume. These include citral (which is found in some citrus oils) and eugenol (which is in rose oil).
Ban?At the moment these are just proposals, and the European Commission has been quick to underline that there is no plan to ban or limit any perfume at the moment. The next step is to consult industry and consumer groups - at which point it will become clear whether any perfumes have to change their ingredients (or list them on the bottle) in order to remain for sale in the EU.
It's clearly far too early to panic. However, this isn't something to be shrugged off, because smelling good is a massive global industry. It's worth over $333 billion worldwide - and Europe remains the world's largest market for fragrances.
Christmas is a vital part of this market. According to GFK Retail, it's not unusual for sales to double in December, as unimaginative partners stick with what they know.
WorryingHowever, there have already been some worrying signs for fragrance houses. Even before the global financial crisis hit, Europeans were cutting their spending on smelling good, according to Global Industry Analysts. They added: "As a result, the financial crunch that followed the recession only led to a further worsening of the scenario, as evidenced by retail de-stocking and decline in consumer spending." They don't need another kick in the teeth right now from the EU.
On the other hand, you have to ask whether any other product which contains allergens would be allowed to get away with not putting details on the packaging.
So what do you think? Let us know in the comments?