Code of conduct

Subject Matter and Scope

This Code of Conduct shall be applicable to all EFEO members manufacturing, importing, marketing, distributing or using in their production, essential oils, absolutes, concretes, or related natural aromatic extracts hereafter referred to as Natural Complex Substances, whatever use is made of them.

The Code of Conduct requires all members to adopt a transparent and ethical approach to standard operating practice within the Essential Oil industry and where necessary a level of transparency over the origin and production of the products to ensure their appropriate and safe use. The objective is to maintain confidence from end users, official authorities and consumers when handling such products.

While it is expected that all members involved in trade, manufacture and industrial use of Natural Complex Substances shall comply with this Code of Conduct, this does not release members from their obligations under national or international regulations relevant to their field of operation.


The following definitions (as laid down under ISO 9235:2013 (en) aromatic natural raw materials vocabulary) shall be applicable in trade between companies applying this EFEO Code of Conduct:

Natural Raw Material

Natural raw material of vegetal, animal or microbiological origin, as such, obtained by physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes, or obtained by traditional preparation processes (e.g. extraction, distillation, heating, torrefaction, fermentation).

Essential Oil

There are 5 categories of Essential Oils, (2.5, 2.9, 2.10, 2.11 and 2.12). An essential oil could be obtained

  • by mechanical processes from the epicarp of the fruit of a citrus, at ambient temperature

  • by distillation of wood, barks, roots or gums, without addition of water or steam

  • from a fruit juice during its concentration or during UHT (flash pasteurization) treatment

  • from a natural raw material of plant origin , by steam distillation, by mechanical processes from the epicarp of citrus fruits, or by dry distillation, after separation of the aqueous phase–if any –by physical processes

  • by steam distillation with addition of water to the still (hydrodistillation) or without addition of water to the still (directly by steam).


Product obtained by treating a natural raw material with one or several solvents


Extract obtained from a fresh natural raw material by extraction with one or several solvents.


Extract obtained from a dry plant natural raw material by extraction with one or several solvents.


Product obtained by extraction from a concrete, a floral pomade, a resinoid or a supercritical fluid extraction.

Extracted Oleoresin

Extract of spice or aromatic herb.

EFEO Guidelines on Labelling

Without prejudice to customers’ labelling requirements and to relevant legal obligations where applicable, E.F.E.O. members commit themselves to meet with the following EFEO guidelines regarding labelling:

  • Members shall label their products accurately and in a manner which clearly identifies the quality and nature of the goods, e.g. if the customer expects the product to be authentic (100% pure and natural from the species and origin referred to), then the customer should not be left in any doubt over its quality.

  • Relevant Guidelines issued by IFRA (International Fragrance Association), IOFI (International Organisation of the Flavour Industry) and EFFA (European Flavour Association) should be considered. Particularly, the IFRA/IOFI Labelling Manual, current version, should be applied. However, in all cases, members are required to follow existing rules for safety classification and labelling in their country of origin.

  • It is recognised that commercial demands from the customer may require specific name labelling; while consideration may be given to the customers’ requirements for labelling, every effort should be made to advise the customer of the true identity of the goods.

  • It is not obligatory to label products with origin unless it is necessary to identify the specific qualityof the goods (e.g. Sandalwood Oil -West Indian). However, to prevent any misunderstanding, this information must be included in a technical or product information sheet.

General Recommendations

In order to retain industry respect and consumer confidence within the wider market, EFEO recommends to its members they provide all necessary transparency on the market they deal with. In order to achieve this, members should endeavour to apply the following criteria when producing or purchasing raw materials:

  • Establish reliable sources of supply irrespective of whether they are producers at origin, importers or distributors.

  • Communicate with the supply chain and relay market information to customers.

  • Take into consideration an adequate relationship between quality and price, when purchasing.

  • Record and be prepared to demonstrate traceability of goods.

  • Communicate and label goods such that any misunderstanding over quality does not occur (see above Labelling Guidelines).

  • Support the customer with information needed for a correct labelling or declaration under his relevant national law

  • Audit your supply chain and allow being audited by your customer.

EFEO recommends their members to make sure that effective Quality Management systems are in place and kept maintained.

Consumer safety is a matter of high concern. Without prejudice to existing legal requirements, EFEO members accept the importance of high quality requirements applying to the raw material, particularly with a view to pesticides, microbiological load, mycotoxins, heavy metals and other contaminants.

Material Safety Data Sheets

Members shall provide Safety Data Sheets in accordance with the requirements laid down in Art. 31 and Annex II of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 on “REACH” as published in the OJ of the EU, L 396, 30thDecember, 2006, or any amended/revised version.

Use of Essential Oils/Natural Complex Substances (NCS)

EFEO members will take into consideration relevant information on the correct classification and labelling of Essential Oils/NCS as e.g. provided by the IFRA/IOFI Code of Practice, the IFRA/IOFI Labelling Manual or additional specific labelling information or advice issued by EFEO

Members will also take into consideration information/recommendations from the EFEO Technical Committee, which will collect and process data relevant for the safe use of Essential Oils/NCS.

EFEO does not endorse the promotion of Essential Oils/NCS for their medical or holistic properties and will not promote or defend these products claiming to have such properties to any local, national or international authorities unless it is supported by a scientific dossier. Members giving advice on application or dosage relating to medicinal, therapeutic or holistic effects do so without the support of EFEO and are advised to consider the relevant national laws of the market in which they are trading.

Members will act in accordance with their relevant national laws applicable to the business operation concerned, particularly the relevant legislation on

  • cosmetics

  • detergents

  • foodstuff including flavourings

  • pharmaceutical products

  • animal feed

  • use in tobacco products

  • biocides

as well as any other legislation, including chemicals legislation, dangerous substance classification, labelling, and packaging law and dangerous good transportation law, applyingto the product at the stage of their specific trade or for the specific use intended by the members.

Labour conditions, corporate integrity, Environmental conduct

EFEO members agree to comply with the standards set by the International Labour Organisation ILO and to apply working conditions and occupational safety measures stipulated by the applicable national legislation.

EFEO members should keep their business conduct freeof dishonest methods and to strictly abstain from any agreements and arrangements restraining the free competition.

EFEO members shall comply with the local, national and international laws in full force and effect in their field of operation.

EFEO encourages their members to apply responsible operating and production methods with a view to the protection of the environment. Members are expected to consider their responsibility over the use and handling of resources such as water and energy and to proper waste management in line with applicable law.

In terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) EFEO recommends to consider approaches based on each member ́s individual company policy.

Obligations under this Code of Conduct

EFEO members commit themselves to support the overall targets and objectives laid down in the EFEO Statutes and to actively contribute to EFEO activities.

Members are expected to make use of the information sources offered by EFEO In this respect, reference is made to the EFEO website under, containing EFEO Newsletters, information documents and links to important legislation (member section) and specific advice concerning REACH (i.a. EFEO/IFRA NCS Guidance Documents).

EFEO members commit themselves to follow recommendations issued by EFEO and, in case of doubt, to seek for advice by contacting the Secretariat.

EFEO Members are expected to contribute to the promotion of a positive image of the Federation and of the products falling under the scope of this Code of Conduct.


NOTE: EFEO may not be held liable for the personal conduct of its members, both related and unrelated to the present Code of Conduct, and the consequences of such conduct.

Last amendment: June 14th,2011

Revision status 7th October 2017


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The European Federation of Essential Oils aims to represent producers and traders of essential oils and related products within Europe. It protects and promotes their interest and acts in defence of these products at relevant national, European and international level.

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