Due to the high concentration of chemical substances in essential oils, the toxicity, carcinogenicity or other potential adverse reactions should be observed by food supplement producers. Accordingly, the French Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Prevention or DGCCRF has adopted guidelines for the safe use of essential oils in food supplements and published a list of plants which essential oils can be considered traditionally used for human consumption.
DGCCRF - Liste des plantes dont les huiles essentielles sont considérées comme traditionnelles - link
The list has no legal force and is not exhaustive. Next to the positive list also two lists of plants which essential oils are not permitted in food supplements are included. Essential oils derived from plants currently not included in the positive list can be added if their traditional use is demonstrated. Reference is made to the lists of essential oils frequently used by industry published on the website of the French food supplements’ association SYNADIET. In the view of DGCCRF the essential oils included in these lists may also be considered as traditionally used. Other essential oils which have no established traditional use may be authorized on the basis of mutual recognition of the submission of a safety dossier.
Inclusion in the positive list does not guarantee the essential oils from the listed plants are safe for use, meaning additional precautions should be considered. Producers are advised to take into account proper conditions of use, such as dosage and the inclusion of precautions for risk groups. In an additional guidance document, the Directorate-General provides further recommendations on the safety precautions that should be taken.
DGCCRF - Recommandations sanitaires pour l’emploi d’huiles essentielles dans les compléments alimentaires - link
The provided indications should assist producers to assess the risk linked to the presence of certain compounds in essential oils. Producers are however free to deviate from the list and provide self-acquired data to demonstrate the safety of essential oils for the intended target groups and corresponding doses. Overall, the use of essential oils is strictly discouraged for pregnant woman and children below the age of 6. Depending on the specific compounds present in a particular essential oil other warnings are prescribed.
DGCCRF - Compléments alimentaires - Huiles essentielles - link