Keeping Consumers Safe Across Europe
Around 2,500 products were removed from, or prevented from entering, the European market place in 2014 because they posed a possible risk to consumers.
According to the figures, which were recently published by the European Commission, these products ranged from toys to motor vehicles, and were identified through the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products.
“Every product in Europe needs to be safe for our citizens. Products that can cause harm have to be removed from the market as quickly as possible,” explained Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “This is the reason why we have created the Rapid Alert System. Over the years it has proven to be very efficient in keeping European consumers safe. This is a very practical example of EU cooperation to the benefit of our citizens.”
The purpose of the Rapid Alert System is to ensure that information is quickly shared between Member States and the European Commission about products that have been identified as dangerous and removed from the market. There are currently 31 countries (EU members, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) that take part.
The Commission explains that there is a responsibility on producers to offer only safe products for sale. If producers become aware that a product is dangerous, they must act immediately to protect consumers and notify the appropriate authorities. The Rapid Alert System is then used to pass this information to the Commission and other Member States.
The system only covers dangerous non-food products that are intended for consumers or professionals and that pose a serious risk to their health and safety. It also covers non-food products that pose a risk to certain public interests, such as the ‘environment’, ‘health and safety at work’ and ‘public security’.
However, the system doesn’t cover other categories of non-food products, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which have their own specific alert systems.
Notification of a dangerous product under the system allows all Member States to notify consumers of the possible risks and take any necessary action, which might include:
- a ban/stop on sales;
- withdrawal of a dangerous product from the market or its recall from consumers;
- or an import rejection by the customs authorities.
Toys (28%) and clothing, textiles and fashion items (23%) were the product categories subject to the most alerts under the system. These were followed by electrical appliances and equipment (9%), motor vehicles (8%), and childcare articles (3%).
The most frequently notified risk categories associated with products in these groups included:
- Injuries (26%)
- Chemical (25%)
- Choking (12%)
- Electric shock (11%)
- Strangulation (9%)
There were a total of 2,435 notifications made under the system in 2014, which is apparently an increase of 3% over the number made during the previous year.
Contact our lawyers today for expert legal advice on all areas of consumer law. Call us on 01279 653 011 or book an appointment through our online booking system.