E-labelling or electronic labelling is an alternative method for indicating market compliance (such as displaying certain information online required under product safety legislation). E-labelling offers a significant number of benefits to manufacturers, including the potential to enhance traceability of products and a cost-effective alternative to physically marking products.
The EU has so far lagged behind other jurisdictions, including the US, China and Australia, when it comes to adopting e-labelling. However, a public consultation on labelling fragrance allergens in cosmetic products suggests that change could be on the horizon, with the inclusion of e-labelling listed as a policy option to be considered. The outcome of this consultation is relevant not only to the cosmetics industry, but also to manufacturers of other products sold in the EU. If e-labelling for fragrance allergens in cosmetic products is adopted, this could become the foundation for policy engagement on e-labelling for other consumer products in the EU.
The public consultation opened on 12 November 2019 for feedback on a proposed EU regulation that would require 62 additional fragrance allergens to be included on labels for cosmetic products, in addition to the 26 fragrance allergens already subject to labelling requirements under the Cosmetics Products Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009.
There are three labelling options being considered:
- A baseline scenario where there is no change in current EU laws and no requirement to label the additional 62 fragrance allergens;
- Labelling the 62 additional fragrance allergens according to current rules under the Cosmetics Products Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 (i.e. physical on-pack labelling);
- E-labelling: through a website address, scanning a QR code or scanning a barcode. The manufacturer would make the final decision whether to opt for on-pack labelling or use e-labelling under this option.
The public consultation is open until 4 February 2020, with Commission adoption of the final initiative planned for the fourth quarter of 2021. Whilst 2021 is still some way off, manufacturers of a variety of products should keep an eye on these developments, as they may signal a change in the EU’s stance on e-labelling and offer a platform for advocating in favour of digitisation of compliance documents for other products. For more information about the public consultation for the labelling of additional fragrance allergens and how you can get involved see here.