Statement on P&G’s Consumer Product Fragrance Disclosure Announcement

Media Contacts
Dev Gowda

Statement from U.S. PIRG Toxics Advocate Dev Gowda on P&G’s Fragrance Disclosure Announcement.

U.S. PIRG applauds consumer product giant Procter & Gamble, the maker of brands like Olay, Old Spice, and Pampers, for its announcement today that it will increase fragrance ingredient transparency in all of its consumer brands. 

Consumers have the right to know if they are exposed to harmful chemicals. Some chemicals used in fragrance have been linked to cancer, but because companies aren’t required to disclose fragrance ingredients, consumers have no way of knowing if the products they apply to their bodies are putting their health at risk. P&G has listened to the public and is now increasing transparency in the chemicals that they use in their fragrances.

Last year, U.S. PIRG and several other consumer, public health, and environment groups called on P&G to disclose fragrance ingredients and to pledge to be toxic-free. You can view our open letter here. U.S. PIRG also recently delivered thousands of petitions to P&G’s headquarters calling on the consumer giant to disclose fragrance ingredients.

According to P&G’s statement, it will expand its current ingredient lists to include the fragrance ingredients in a product’s formulation above 0.01% (100 parts per million) through a smartphone or computer via SmartLabel. P&G aims to complete this update by the end of 2019.

This is a victory for consumer product transparency. Other personal care manufacturers like L’Oréal should follow P&G’s lead and provide greater fragrance transparency.

The ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum” refers to a mixture of scent chemicals and ingredients that are not required by law to be disclosed. According to the International Fragrance Association approximately 3,000 chemicals can be used to make fragrance, some of which have been linked to cancer, reproductive and respiratory problems, and allergies.

P&G’s announcement comes on the heels of Unilever USA’s announcement in February 2017 that it will disclose fragrance ingredients in its personal care brands by 2018.

While we applaud P&G’s actions today, we will also urge them to go further in protecting public health. P&G should also provide full fragrance disclosure to consumers on product packages, regardless of the product category and whether the product contains fragrance ingredients over 100 parts per million. For certain chemicals like endocrine-disrupting compounds, low level exposures have been associated with serious health effects. Putting the info right there on the package means that shoppers won’t need to pull out their smartphone or computer, which is one more hurdle to jump through. 

While this is a move in the right direction to increase transparency for consumers, P&G should take the next step to protect public health and achieve full fragrance disclosure and remove all toxic chemicals of concern from their consumer product brands.