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FMA Ponders Green Fragrances: a Balancing Act

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Perfumer & Flavorist magazine
Posted: January 8, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of P&F magazine.

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Salvito explained that companies are free to pursue the blessing of various NGO labeling initiatives, but that this sort of action can send the wrong message, a message that cannot be unsent. "I don’t think that by using these [natural] claims that we are using the safest possible chemicals," he said in discussing calls for "safer" fragrances. "I think it’s within the context of the product use."

"It’s what consumers want right now," Fabricant had noted earlier, responding to skeptical questions about the NPA’s certification plan. "They want to know the difference in the marketplace. They want information."

But it doesn’t define what’s "good," a questioner noted.

"No," Fabricant conceded. "This is what consumers define as good. This is what they believe in."

Salvito’s talk covered the fragrance industry’s risk-based approach to fragrance ingredients—including assessment of effects on the aquatic environment—in the hopes that these considerations would be taken into account by those developing natural and organic standards and eco labels. "When we eliminate risk assessment, we’re inferring that there’s no safe use level for chemicals either from an environmental or human health standpoint. I would disagree with that. It also implies that substitution is the solution. Many of us may have faced this. But not everything is substitutable. Or a substitute may not be as efficacious or [may] present different problems that will change the risk of the material. I think we need to consider, too, the socioeconomic impact. … There are economic impacts for substitution."