Quality assurance for tea tree oil safety investigative samples

Document Type


Publication details

Southwell, I, Leach, DN, Lowe, R & Pollack, A 2006,Quality assurance for tea tree oil safety investigative samples, report to Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC, Kingston, ACT, publication no. 06/026, project no. Dan 241A.

Report available online at https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/06-026


Tea tree oil has recently received bad media coverage overseas though headlines stating: “tea tree oil – unsafe and unstable” as a result of a European SCCP (Scientific Committee on Consumer Products) opinion that concluded that insufficient data was available on the safety and stability of the oil. The industry is addressing this situation by commissioning approved tests in order to obtain a more complete safety dossier on tea tree oil. For this to be achieved, the oils tested must be well defined chemically for the dossier to be valid. This report outlines how, from eleven commercial samples screened, three oils (one fresh, one mildly oxidised and one oxidised) were chosen by peroxide index determination and thoroughly defined by GC, GCMS and physical constants as to whether they were typical oils meeting international standards before being tested for dermal penetration and other safety parameters for the dossier. Such testing will be of economic benefit as a more acceptable oil will lead to more sales and be of social benefit as the safety and stability of the oil are better defined.