Brussels: Europe's grand old perfume houses and organic cosmetic newcomers may be looking at a major clean-out as the EU sniffs out ingredients blamed for skin allergies in up to 15 million people.
A report by the EU's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) found three allergens -- HICC and moss extracts atranol and choroatranol, which give a woody bouquet such as that in Chanel No 5 -- were "not safe", the Commission said.
The three have been implicated in thousands of allergy cases, especially eczema, and should be banned from cosmetic products, it said.
Another 12 chemicals and eight natural extracts used to give perfumes a rose or lemon fragrance "were identified as substances of special concern," the Commission added.
The 12 chemicals should be subject to concentration limits, it said, with all listed in product labels.
"We are not targeting any particular perfume," said EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Neven Mimica.
"There is no question of banning Chanel No 5."
But if member states back the Commission position, then some perfumes, including some of the leading brands, will have to be "reformulated", he added.
Perversely, it will be organic cosmetics which will be worst affected, despite claims to purity and naturalness.
"According to industry estimations, some 90 per cent of products will have to be modified," a major challenge for mostly small companies, an EU source said.
Mimica said luxury perfume manufacturers are better placed to cope and have already made some of the changes.
They will also get perhaps up to five years to meet the new rules once these are adopted, likely in 2015, so "they can preserve their world leadership," he added.
The measures will be put to public consultation for three months, before being put up to member states.