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Will bureaucrats force reinvention of Chanel N°5?

Four bottles of Chanel No. 5 perfume by Gabrielle Chanel from 1921, and a Chanel No. 5 necklace (R, rear) during a press preview of "Chanel", an exhibition of the history of the fashion House of Chanel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Chanel may be forced to reformulate its most iconic scent, as the European Union mulls new laws which could ban some of the key ingredients in Chanel N°5.

The Independent newspaper reported Friday that the European Commission is considering a law to protect about 3 percent of the European population who are allergic to some of the extracts and oils found in the world's most popular perfumes.

The proposed rules would restrict the use of 12 key components used in fragrances including Chanel N°5 and some of the top scents by other manufacturers, like Dior and Hermes.

Ingredients including courmarin, found in tonka beans; eugenol, found in rose oil; citral, which is extracted from lemon and tangerine oils; atranol and chloroatranol, as well as oak moss and tree moss, could be banned from perfumes. The synthetic HICC molecule that recreates the smell of lily of the valley is also on the list of restrictions.

"We understand that drastic reductions in the authorized concentrations of these ingredients would have created major disruptions to the industry," David Hudson, the European Commission's spokesman for consumer policy told The Independent.

Chanel doesn't seem overly alarmed.

"Adapting is a challenge but it is precisely the talent of our 'nose' to be able to preserve the qualities and olfactive (scent) identity of our perfumes while also taking into account new regulatory constraints," said a Chanel spokesperson, according to the newspaper.

Frederic Malle, the head of a smaller French perfume maker, told The Independent it would be "absurd" to ban key ingredients to protect a "small" portion of the population, however.

"It can take more than six months to reformulate a perfume, and a minimum of some 30 tests," said Malle. "This is precious time that cannot be spent on creating new perfumes. So to protect a small portion of the population, we are making the rest suffer."

European Commission lawmakers were expected to vote on the proposed rules in August.

It was unclear whether Chanel would continue making its iconic fragrance with the old formulation for markets outside the EU if the new restrictions were approved.