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Protecting European Consumers: follow-up action on dangerous product alerts increased significantly in 2019

Today, the European Commission published its latest report on the Commission's system to prevent or restrict the selling of dangerous products on the market, the so-called ‘Rapid Alert System'. The report shows that the number of actions taken by authorities following an alert is growing year on year, reaching 4,477 in 2019 compared to 4050 in 2018.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said:

The Rapid Alert System is available 24 hours, 7 days a week, keeping information flowing and our single market safe. As we have seen from the 2019 report, a record level of work is being carried out to protect consumers from dangerous products and potential harm. Moreover, the Commission has been working with Member States to increase testing of products. This work led to an additional 75 products being flagged through our Rapid Alert System since the end of last year.”

Main findings of the report

In 2019, authorities from 31 participating countries of the Rapid Alert System (EU Member States plus the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) exchanged 2,243 alerts on dangerous products through the system, which prompted 4,477 follow-up actions. This represents an increase of 10% from last year and of 63% since 2015. Actions taken range from the withdrawal or destruction of a product by distributors and retailers before they reach consumers, to recalling unsafe products from users.

According to today's report, toys were the most notified product category (29% of total notifications), followed by motor vehicles (23%), and electrical appliances and equipment (8%). Cosmetics, clothing, textiles and fashion items, as well as childcare articles and children's equipment also had a high number of alerts.

The most notified risks related to a product causing injuries (27%) such as fractures or concussions. Chemical components in products was the second most frequently flagged concern (23%), followed by risks of choking for children (13%).

While not covered by the 2019 report, a number of new alerts have been registered since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Up until 1 July, there were 63 alerts on face masks, 3 alerts on coveralls, 3 alerts on hand disinfectants and 3 alerts on UV lamps ("sanitising wands"). Between 1 March and 1 July, 10 follow-up actions were taken on face-masks, and one on a hand disinfectant, leading to the further harmonisation of measures against such products and thereby improving the protection of consumers across Europe.

Coordinated testing of products

The Commission also published today the results of the Coordinated Activities on the Safety of Products (CASP). This work – which involved the joint testing of products by the European Commission and European authorities selected by the Member States– led to 652 products being tested for safety. Products selected for testing by Member States included personal transport devices, soft-filled toys, chargers, batteries, bicycle seats for children and slime toys. 38% of all products tested were non-compliant with specific aspects of EU safety legislation. 11% of products – 75 products – were found to pose serious risks for consumers. For example, while all the bicycle seats tested presented some type of risk, only 8% were serious. By category, soft-filled toys presented the highest rates of serious risks, 68%, while batteries showed the least serious risks (1%) In carrying out this work, if a risk is found to be serious, the product is notified in the Rapid Alert System in order to prevent the spread of dangerous products on the market.

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