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?
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.
Every flavour or fragrance chemical that you want to introduce must be authorised under one of our 5 main categories:
- 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.
If you’re introducing a chemical that's authorised under our exempted category, 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.
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.
If you’re introducing cosmetic products containing ingredients that are not on the Inventory and are in the assessed category, you must apply for an assessment certificate before you can introduce the chemicals.
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.
Regardless of the introduction category, you must submit an annual declaration by 30 November after 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.
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)