There is a rumour circulating that large companies within the cosmetics industry are pressing the European Commission to prohibit 'free from' claims. This is untrue. On the contrary, recent discussions between the cosmetics industry representatives for large and small companies and the European Commission have established that 'free from' claims, in principle, are allowed and will not be banned under the new Cosmetics Regulation.
However, all advertising must comply with the relevant legislation, including the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) and the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive (2006/114/EC), and Member States are concerned that this aspect is not always well understood. Under these two Directives, claims that play on the fears or lack of understanding of consumers or that unfairly denigrate the competition may be judged illegal, but these requirements apply to all advertising and not just cosmetics and they have been in force for some time. The current rumour is without truth; indeed, some large companies also make use of such claims. However, 'free from' claims that exploit the fears or lack of understanding of consumers or that unfairly denigrate the competition may well come under much closer scrutiny to ensure compliance with existing legislation.