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Clearing the Air in Spat Over Household Fresheners

Mon, 08/14/2006 - 6:38am

Has a spat between the European Consumers’ Organization (BEUC) and Sara Lee Household and Body Cara created a pivotal moment in the relationship between the consumer and the chemical industry? The little publicized dispute began with a study commissioned by BEUC that claimed that household air fresheners contained well-known toxic substances. Sara Lee disputed the claims and challenged BEUC’s findings in the Dutch courts. The courts ruled in favor of Sara Lee and ordered BEUC to stop saying that air fresheners were unsafe in normal use. BEUC decided to appeal but then dropped its plans following a report from the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and the Environment. This report looked at BEUC’s findings and said there is a need for research on the impact on consumers of chemicals in air fresheners. BEUC said this new report is a good basis for further action and research on air freshener emissions. “In these circumstances, there is no need to spend even more of our scare resources on legal proceedings.”

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