L’Oréal responds to child labour perfume links

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 31-May-2024

The beauty giant has responded to a BBC documentary which shows children picking jasmine in Egypt

L’Oréal has responded to a documentary which alleges that one of its luxury perfumes has been linked to child labour. 

The BBC World Service Eye’s Perfume’s Dark Secret film claims that during the summer 2023 its investigative arm witnessed children aged between five and 15 picking jasmine flowers in Egypt.

The documentary shows children picking the ingredient throughout the night and alleges they made on average US$1 a day. 

In Egypt it is illegal for children under the age of 15 to work between 7pm and 7am.

The BBC alleges these ingredients were sent to factories that supply scents for global brands, including L’Oréal’s Lancôme Idôle Intense, despite the beauty group having zero-tolerance child labour policies.

L’Oréal has released a statement stating it is “deeply committed” to protecting human rights.

It said it expects all of its suppliers, including fragrance houses, to “act in a responsible and ethical way”.

The beauty group, which develops fragrances for several luxury brands, said it “always acts immediately” if it identifies any problems in its supply chain.

“And this is exactly what we are currently doing in Egypt, where we indirectly source a small percentage of the jasmine used in some of our products,” read L’Oréal’s statement.

“Thanks to our ongoing monitoring process, in October 2023, after the last harvest, and before the BBC reached out to us, we first identified potential human rights issues, including child labour.  

“Consistent with our human rights commitments, we decided to take immediate action.

“As a result, since these potential issues first surfaced, we have worked to put concrete actions in place ahead of the next jasmine harvest in June.

“To drive systemic change in support of local communities – in order to eliminate child labour while protecting the livelihood of the families who depend on jasmine picking – we have been a key player in setting up a coalition in partnership with the Egyptian government, the Fragrance Houses and other industry partners.  

“This coalition is being led by the Fair Labor Association and the International Labour Organization, as part of their flagship 'Harvesting the Future – Jasmine in Egypt' project.” 

L’Oréal added that it was “very disappointed that the BBC chose not to include its concrete actions in Egypt, which we had already started to implement before they first contacted us.

“And which we have actively shared with them in detail.”

Which other luxury fragrances were named in the documentary?

Estée Lauder-owned Aerin Beauty’s Ikat Jasmine and Limone di Sicilia fragrances were also named in the documentary as among those who allegedly engage in the jasmine trade in Egypt through suppliers such as Givaudan and DSM-Firmenich.

“We believe the rights of all children should be protected,” Estée Lauder told the BBC.  

“And we have contacted our suppliers to investigate this very serious matter.”

When the BBC presented its findings to Givaudan, the company described the findings as “deeply alarming”.

Adding: “it is incumbent upon us all to continue taking action to remove the risk of child labour entirely.”

Egypt supplies about half of the global supply of jasmine, “one of the most valuable ingredients used in popular perfumes by billion-dollar global brands,” said the BBC. 

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