A research team at Hung Kuang University called on the government to standardize naming and labeling of essential oil products to protect consumers’ rights.
The team has been conducting random samples of essential oils since last month, Hung Kuang University Department of Applied Cosmetology professor and research leader Yih Kuang-hway (易光輝) said.
The group sampled 22 products that are sold online or at tourism factories, night markets and other channels, including some endorsed by celebrities.
Photo: Ou Su-mei, Taipei Times
By definition, pure essential oils are distilled from plants, but most products sold on the market do not indicate whether they are pure or blended oils, Yih said.
Blended essential oil products are created using small amounts of pure essential oil mixed with artificial essences, polyhydroxyl alcohol perfumes, glyceryl esters and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalates, but many are sold at the same price as pure essential oils, he said.
Lab results showed that 20 products included artificial essences, while two others showed traces of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, which contravenes regulations, Yih said.
One unnamed brand of lavender essential oil does not include artificial essences, but carries a misleading label that says it was extracted from “true lavender” that grows at higher altitudes, but was actually a lower type of extract.
A sandalwood essential oil from the same brand was found to have exaggerated its santalol content by at least 30 times, Yih said.
Another brand does not even contain santalol, even though it is marketed as sandalwood essential oil, he said.
Twelve products by a brand endorsed by celebrities showed traces of artificial essences and glyceryl esters, Yih said.
In addition, the jasmine and chamomile essential oils marketed by the same brand were found to contain 3.55 percent and 80.6 percent of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalates respectively, exceeding the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s standards of 100 parts per million by 355 times and 8,060 times respectively, Yih said.
Such additions could cause users to either exhibit precocious puberty or in severe cases lead to infertility, Yih said.
The government should amend regulations and demand proper labeling of essential oils, such as whether they meet ISO/CNS standards or whether they are unadulterated essential oils or blended oils, to allow consumers to make a conscious choice, Yih said.
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