13 May 2016
Toys are Most Notified Among Dangerous Consumer Products According to Latest RAPEX Report
On 25 April 2016, the European Commission published the results of the Rapid Alert System (the RAPEX system) for dangerous consumer products in 2015. The results have shown that over 2000 dangerous consumer products triggered EU-wide alerts during 2015. Dangerous products are those which pose a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers, including risks leading to physical injury and risks from chemicals.
Hong Kong manufacturers that export their products to the EU should know that toys, clothing, other textile products, electrical appliances and jewellery received the highest number of notifications during 2015.
RAPEX is a system whereby European countries are able to alert other countries and the public of dangerous non-food products found on their markets. The system was established by the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC and has been in force since 2004. RAPEX currently has 31 members, comprising the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.
When a member country identifies a non-food product as dangerous or as posing a risk to consumers, they must notify RAPEX and submit any relevant information on the product. Other members can then check whether the same product is available on their national market and implement any necessary measures to ensure that the dangerous product is withdrawn or recalled from the market. This enables RAPEX to have an EU-wide effect and increases the speed of notification between countries.
Products identified as dangerous under RAPEX are posted on the Commission’s website on a weekly basis, and are updated as further information becomes available.
When a producer, importer, distributor or economic operator becomes aware that their product has been identified as dangerous, they must immediately take the necessary action and cooperate with national market surveillance authorities. The most common measures in response to dangerous non-food products are a ban on sales; withdrawals from the market; recalls from consumers; and import rejection by the customs authorities.
In 2015, there were 2123 notifications of which 2072 products triggered an alert as posing a risk to consumer health and safety. In total, there were 2745 reported follow-up actions in response to the products identified as dangerous. This was the first time that over 50% of the notifications triggered follow-up actions. This result demonstrates that consumer authorities in different member countries appear increasingly to be acting on the same issues when flagged through RAPEX.
In 2015, in line with the previous year’s results, toys were the most notified product category, followed by clothing, textiles and fashion. Motor vehicles were the third most notified product category. There was a very slight reduction in the number of electrical appliances and equipment notified in 2015 compared to 2014; however it was still the fourth most notified product category followed by jewellery. It is noteworthy that in 2014, jewellery had not appeared in the top five most notified product categories.
Chemical risk was the highest notified risk in dangerous consumer products in 2015, accounting for 25% of the notifications. Additionally, Hong Kong exporters should take note that chemical risk was the highest reported risk in toys in 2015, as products were found to contain dangerous chemicals such as different kinds of banned phthalates.
Traditionally, risk of injury i.e. physical injury, has hitherto been the most notified risk. In 2015, it was the second highest detected risk accounting for 22% of the notifications. These risks were followed by risk of choking (17%), electric shock (12%) and fire (8%). Other risks, including, strangulation and burns, were among 9 other recorded risks in 2015.
Hong Kong traders with business interests in mainland China may be alarmed to know that the highest percent of dangerous consumer products reported in 2015 originated in mainland China. There were only 14 (unspecified) notifications relating to dangerous non-food products originating in Hong Kong.
In June this year, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, will travel to mainland China to improve cooperation with the Chinese authorities on product safety.
An issue facing the EU is an increase in the number of online sales enabling products to reach the consumer without them, in some cases, having been subjected to safety verification. The number of online shoppers has increased by 27% from 2006 to 2015. Therefore, the border authorities are required to detect such products and implement the necessary measures.
Please click on the following link to read the RAPEX Report for 2015.