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Unilever US discloses fragrance ingredients in nearly 100 products

Products - Dove soap

Fragrance ingredient information for almost 100 Unilever US products has been made available online and through an app.

The released information covers selected products across seven personal care brands – Dove, Axe, Degree, Nexxus, Suave, TRESemmé and Vaseline.

A Unilever spokesperson told Chemical Watch: "We work with several fragrance suppliers and this was the first set of fragrance ingredients we received from a supplier and processed into our system."

Unilever first announced its plans in February. It said it would provide consumers with information about specific fragrance ingredients above 0.01% (100 parts per million) present in its personal care products by the end of 2018.

Procter & Gamble also recently announced an initiative to reveal all the fragrance ingredients in its products above 0.01%, by the end of 2019.

The Unilever information will be available to view on the SmartLabel app and on the company's What’s in Our Products website, which launched earlier this year.

There are also descriptions of each fragrance ingredient to help consumers understand their purpose and benefit.

The spokesperson said that Unilever requires its suppliers to adhere to its responsible sourcing policy (RSP) and verify alignment to its mandatory requirements, through the use of:

  • supplier self-declaration;
  • online assessments; and
  • third party audits in designated high-risk countries.

Consumer barrier 

Welcoming the company's action, Dev Gowda of the NGO, US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) said: "These are some of the most popular Unilever brands and it’s great that the first round of implementation includes products for the entire family."

However, he added, the company should disclose the ingredients on product packaging rather than online and via an app.

"Needing a smart phone in the store or having to look up the ingredients online at home before shopping is an unnecessary barrier for consumers," Mr Gowda said.

Alex Scranton, director of science and research at the NGO, Women's Voices For the Earth, also questioned why the company did not add the fragrance ingredients to product labels.

"For years, major manufacturers claimed that, if they had to disclose all of the fragrance chemicals on the label, there would be no room because they would be listing up to 100 additional chemical names on each product. In reality, now they are disclosing, the number of fragrance ingredients is much smaller," she said.

Ms Scranton also noted that SC Johnson, which has a Glade product range with 100% ingredient disclosure, lists around 50 fragrance ingredients compared to six to ten ingredients for Unilever and eight to 17 for P&G, which are both only revealing those above 0.01%.

"So are SC Johnson’s fragrances just simply much more complex (involving more ingredients) than P&G's or Unilever's or is the fragrance disclosure we are getting (everything above 0.01%) giving us much less information than we expected it might?" she asked.

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