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Welcome to the website of the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS). We started on 1 July 2020. Read about us.

Flavour and fragrance chemicals

Flavour and fragrance chemicals are common additives in personal care, hygiene and cleaning products — and are regulated as industrial chemicals for these uses. This generally includes chemicals described as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. Chemicals that meet our definition of a ‘naturally occurring chemical’ are still industrial chemicals, but are excluded from some legal obligations.

What is a flavour or fragrance chemical?

The main function of flavour and fragrance chemicals is to impart a smell or taste. The same categorisation rules apply to flavour and fragrance chemicals because there’s often an overlap between the functions of these chemicals. For example, mint or lemon essence have both an aroma and a flavour.

Frequently, flavour and fragrance chemicals are combined into a blend, which is defined as follows:

  • A fragrance blend is a mixture of chemicals that is formulated to impart a scent or to cover a malodour.
  • A flavour blend is a mixture of industrial chemicals that is formulated to impart a taste.

What are my obligations if I’m introducing flavour or fragrance chemicals?

Registration

You must register your business with us before you import or manufacture (‘introduce’) industrial chemicals - or products that release industrial chemicals - for commercial purposes. You register your business with us, not your products or ingredients.

Registration applies even if another business is already importing the same (or similar) chemicals.

Learn more about registration and who must register

Categorisation

Every flavour or fragrance chemical that you want to introduce must be authorised under 1 of our 5 main categories:

  • Listed (on our Inventory)
  • Exempted
  • Reported
  • Assessed
  • Commercial Evaluation Authorisation

Your obligations for each category will depend on the level of risk to human health and the environment from your introduction.

Frequently, an importer or manufacturer may not know all the chemical ingredients in a flavour or fragrance blend they’re introducing. To accommodate this situation, we have streamlined the introduction process for flavour and fragrance blends.

You can now choose to import or manufacture the blend as a ‘reported introduction - low-risk flavour or fragrance blend - without going through the process of working out the highest indicative risk, as long as it meets certain requirements.

If you use this pathway, you will need to nominate a chemical data provider who can provide information about the chemicals in the blend.

Reporting

If you’re introducing a chemical that you’ve categorised as very low risk for human health and the environment, you must submit a once-off exempted introduction declaration after you import or manufacture the chemical. This obligation is separate to your annual declaration obligations.

Learn more about exempted introduction declarations

If you’re introducing a low-risk flavour or fragrance blend that’s authorised under our reported category, you must submit a once-off pre-introduction report before you import or manufacture the blend. This obligation is separate to your annual declaration obligations.

Learn more about pre-introduction reports.

Record keeping

You must keep certain records about your chemical introductions to confirm they comply with our laws. You must keep these records for 5 years, even after you’ve stopped introducing your chemical.

Learn more about your reporting and record-keeping obligations

Annual declarations

Regardless of the introduction category, you must submit an annual declaration at the end of every registration year. This is a declaration you make about the industrial chemicals you imported or manufactured in the previous registration year and confirms that your introductions were authorised under our laws.

Learn more about annual declarations

Other government standards

If your introduction is for an end use in cosmetics or consumer goods, you must ensure that it complies with other government standards including:

Use of animal test data

The ban on the use of new animal test data for ingredients solely used in cosmetics started on 1 July 2020. There are also restrictions on using new animal test data for chemicals with multiple end uses (including in cosmetics). If the flavour or fragrance chemicals you want to introduce have an end use in cosmetics (or multiple end uses that include cosmetics), you must confirm that you have complied with the rules on using animal test data to categorise your introduction.

You do this when you submit either:

  • an exempted introduction declaration (if relevant)
  • a pre-introduction report (for ‘low-risk’ ingredients of a flavour or fragrance blend)

Learn more about the rules on using animal test data

Frequently asked questions

A. Firstly, if you import the honey fragrance yourself from an overseas supplier, you must register with us and check that the fragrance is on our chemical Inventory. But if you buy the fragrance from an Australian supplier, you don’t need to register with us for this purpose because the supplier has already registered.

Once you’ve confirmed the origin of the fragrance, your next step is to look at the manufacturing process for your soaps. If you’re only going to use melt-and-pour bases that you’ve bought from a local supplier, you don’t need to register with us because your manufacturing process does not involve a chemical reaction.

A. In this scenario, the origin of the ingredients is important. If you’re sourcing them locally, then you don’t need to register with us for this purpose because the Australian supplier has already registered.

Learn more about making products to sell using imported or local ingredients

A. Yes, you must register with us. As you are importing the products from overseas yourself, you also need to check that every ingredient is on our chemical Inventory and you can meet any terms of the listing. It’s important to note that although many essential oils and plant essences are described as 'natural' or 'organic', they may still be regulated as industrial chemicals. This is because they’re made using a process that involves a chemical reaction, such as steam distillation or solvent extraction. If any ingredient is not listed on our Inventory, you will need to categorise each unlisted chemical.

Learn more about organic and natural ingredients.

A. There are several reasons why you may not be able to find a chemical on our Inventory:

  • it doesn’t need to be listed because it's a chemical that’s legally defined as ‘naturally occurring’ 
  • it’s on our comparable chemicals list 
  • it's available to introduce but the information is protected as confidential business information
  • it’s not listed and is new to Australia 

Go to I can't find my chemical on the Inventory

You can ask us to find out if a chemical is protected as confidential business information. However, we need to be satisfied you are genuinely intending to manufacture or import the chemical.

A. Fragrance companies are not legally required to list their ingredients on product labels. Therefore, many fragrance chemicals are simply listed as ‘fragrance’. This allows the company to protect its formula as a trade secret.

In this scenario, you will need to ask your supplier or manufacturer for a list of the ingredients in your product, then check that each ingredient is on our Inventory. If the ingredients are protected as a trade secret, you can ask your supplier or manufacturer to check the Inventory for you. They will need to give you a written undertaking confirming all the ingredients are listed on the Inventory before you import the product. By law, we can ask for this statement or any other information about a chemical’s identity at any time.

If some or all of the chemicals in the flavour or fragrance blend are not listed on the Inventory, you must categorise each chemical that is part of your introduction. Alternatively, you can import or manufacture the blend as a reported (‘low-risk’) introduction without going through the process of working out the highest indicative risk, as long as you meet the requirements of that category.

A. Sometimes a chemical is simply described on a product as ‘fragrance’. You will need to ask your supplier or manufacturer for a list of the ingredients in your product, then check that they’re on our Inventory. If the identity of the ingredients are protected as a trade secret, you can ask your supplier or manufacturer to check the Inventory for you. The supplier can provide a written undertaking through our business portal confirming all the ingredients are listed on the Inventory. By law, we can ask for this statement or any other information about a chemical’s identity at any time.

If some or all of the chemicals in the flavour or fragrance blend are not listed on the Inventory, you must categorise each chemical that’s part of your introduction. Alternatively, you can import or manufacture the blend as a reported (‘low-risk’) introduction without going through the process of working out the highest indicative risk, as long as you meet the requirements of that category.

A. Firstly, you should read our legal definition of a naturally occurring chemical. If the fragrance is NOT legally defined as naturally occurring, then it’s regulated as an industrial chemical - and you will need to check that it’s listed on our Inventory.

This is because many essential oils and plant essences that are described as 'natural' or 'organic’ are made using a process that involves a chemical reaction - such as steam distillation or solvent extraction.

Learn more about organic and natural ingredients

A. If your products contain ingredients that are industrial chemicals, you must register with us. Note that you register your business with us, not the ingredients or products. Learn more about registration and who must register.

After registering, you must check that each ingredient in the product you want to introduce is listed on the Inventory. If some or all of the ingredients are not listed on the Inventory, you must categorise your introduction.

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