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November 8, 2012

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Chanel refutes claims perfume products unsafe

CHANEL China said yesterday its products are safe for use after one of its best-selling perfumes came under fire for containing a substance that may cause an allergic reaction, triggering a suggested sales ban from the European-based Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.

A scientific review by the committee has identified about 100 ingredients that could cause allergic reactions and recommended some be limited while others, such as tree mosses used in the famous Chanel N 5 perfume, be banned outright, AFP reported.

The European Commission said it has no current plans to ban or impose limits on perfumes or cosmetics found to cause an allergic reaction, but is nevertheless consulting the industry and consumer groups.

The question is whether to add those ingredients identified by the scientific committee to the 26 that current EU legislation requires to be listed on the products they are used in, AFP reported. Many fear it would lead to a panic in the perfume industry.

The Chinese branch of the French fashion giant said Chanel products are safe and their production process meets industry regulations.

"Some natural products also contain these substances, which may lead to a reaction in some people with an allergic constitution," it said in a statement.

A 100ml bottle of Chanel N 5 is priced at 1,520 yuan (US$245) and a Chanel salesperson at Westgate Mall Isetan in Jing'an District said it is the best-selling product at the counter.

Perfume ingredients are not printed on packages as producers consider them to be company secrets.

Doctors suggested consumers test for an allergic reaction before they purchase a new perfume.

"There are several thousand potential allergy inducing substances, and it is hard to tell which one causes the allergic reaction when people get skin irritations," said Shi Yuling, director of the department of dermatology at Shanghai's NO.10 People's Hospital.

Some consumers spray fragrance on different parts of their body and may not notice small skin irritations, Shi said.

She said allergic reactions to perfume are not that common but suggested potential buyers apply a sample on their skin and wait 48 hours to see whether they have a reaction before buying.

Some perfume enthusiasts said they would be more cautious in future when purchasing a fragrance.

"I will see whether there will be a sales ban or not from the EU before I decide to present it to others or use it myself," said Cherry Wang, who works in advertising and received a bottle of Chanel N 5 as a gift.


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