Smell is a powerful sense and can be the reason we decide to buy or not to buy certain products. We seek out familiar smells and love to surround ourselves in sweet smells. For some, it gives us a sense of being clean. But when we see the word ‘fragrance’ on a list of ingredients, what does it mean?
Fragrances are considered by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration as ‘proprietary ingredients’ – confidential formulations containing two or more ingredients.
If you buy a product with ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ listed in the ingredients, then unfortunately you are buying a ticket in the chemical lottery.
Fragrances, trans-dermal patch adhesives, colouring ingredients, flavours and printing inks are all considered to be confidential mixes of who-knows-what.
Fragrances are big business and can be responsible for selling or not selling a product. I am sure most of us have sniffed a bottle of shampoo or body lotion before buying it, so no wonder these companies want to keep their formulas a secret!
Companies can choose to list the ingredients of their fragrance on the label of their product or if they don’t want to disclose the ingredients of their special fragrance formula, they can list the formula as ‘fragrance’ and register the details with the TGA.
The TGA requires that the ingredients of any therapeutic goods be disclosed before the goods are able to be sold within Australia however these secret formulas are treated as ‘commercial-in-confidence’ and will not be released to the public unless by law or in accordance with the act. Basically it is pretty hard – or near impossible to find out what the ingredients of ‘fragrance’ in your favourite lotion is.
If you are concerned about using a certain chemical or have an allergy to a chemical then you need to steer clear of anything with ‘fragrance’ listed as an ingredient. You just don’t know what or how many chemicals make up that particular ‘fragrance’.