As provided for in the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC No 1223/2009, Article 20), the acceptability of cosmetic product claims is determined by their compliance with the common criteria. Established by the EU Commission and the EU Member States, these common criteria are reported in the Regulation EU No 655/2013 and further detailed in guidelines made available on the EU Commission’s website.
Six common criteria must be taken into consideration when developing a cosmetic claim:
- Legal compliance
- Evidential Support
- Informed decision-making
From day one, the EU Parliament and EU Council feared that the use of common criteria could lead to an ineffective regulation of cosmetic claims in the EU. Indeed, their application often requires an expert evaluation of the information available and a legal interpretation of the common criteria, which can be difficult and highly subjective. Therefore, it was decided to enforce this relatively soft regulatory framework for a few years and then determine whether or not it adequately regulates the market. Indeed, Article 20 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation says:
“By 11 July 2016, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council a report regarding the use of claims on the basis of the common criteria adopted under the second subparagraph. If the report concludes that claims used in respect of cosmetic products are not in conformity with the common criteria, the Commission shall take appropriate measures to ensure compliance in cooperation with the Member States.”
On September 19th, the EU Commission handed over its report to the EU Parliament and EU Council, which summarizes in 11 pages how far cosmetic claims are properly regulated in the EU. For this report, the EU Commission used the data provided by 21 EU Member States and covering the analysis of 38,995 cosmetic claims. Out of these 38,995 cosmetic claims, 3,730 were considered as non-compliant (9.6 percent). It is reported that 70 percent of the non-compliant claims were found online but only 17 percent on the actual products and 13 percent on brochures.
On this basis, the EU Commission concludes that “the existing European regulatory framework for claims and advertising of cosmetic products is very comprehensive and ensures a high level of consumer protection. At the same time, it enables the European cosmetics industry to be competitive within the EU and in the world,” and does not recommend the enforcement of a stricter system for the regulation of claims.
However, the EU Commission recognizes that the current framework does not offer a satisfactory solution for the management of the ‘free from’ and ‘hypoallergenic’ claims. On this point, the EU Commission makes reference to the ongoing work aiming to improve the situation.
To be more specific, the EU Commission and the EU Member States revised the guidelines for the application of the common criteria and added two annexes, one on ‘free from’ claims (annex III) and one on the ‘hypoallergenic’ claim (annex IV). These guidelines are still a draft but should be finalized very soon with no significant changes expected. Once approved by all EU Member States, the application of these guidelines will become mandatory, albeit with a transition period of two years for correcting the claims outlined above.
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Fred Lebreux holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and a master in management. After a post-doctoral position at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris where he developed new pathways for the synthesis of biologically active substances, he was hired by IFRA, the International Fragrance Association. After a few years at the position of IFRA Scientific and Regulatory Manager, he was promoted IFRA Scientific Projects Manager. In both positions, Fred actively contributed to defend the collective interests of the global fragrance industry.
After 5 years with IFRA, Fred joined BIORIUS at the position of Scientific and Regulatory Director. At BIORIUS, the leading consultancy company in scientific and regulatory services for the Cosmetic Industry, he developed further the competences of his team, ensured the quality of deliveries, improved important processes, created effective working relationship with Biorius’ clients and solved complex issues.
In October 2015, the Board of BIORIUS nominated Fred Lebreux as the new Chief Operating Officer, entrusting him the daily operations of the company. In his new role, Fred took over the global supervision of the Department of Operations and the Department of Scientific and Regulatory affairs and will contribute to strengthen their current organization.