In its latest report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products, European Commission presented key data on the Rapid Alert System’s activity related to consumer products posing a risk to the health and safety of consumers.
The Rapid Alert system was established by General Product Safety Directive in 2004. Since that time, the system was operated by an experienced network of 31 national authorities assisted by the European Commission.
The results of the latest report showed that national authorities, who removed more dangerous products from stores, used the system more actively in 2016. Collaboration between EU countries who use the system to ensure that dangerous products are quickly removed everywhere in Europe has intensified.
“European Rapid Alert System enables a quick exchange of information between 31 European countries (EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and the European Commission about dangerous non-food consumer products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers as well as environment. The system ensures that information about dangerous products that are banned, withdrawn from the market or recalled from consumers is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission, so that appropriate action can be taken anywhere in the EU.
Challenges of e-commerce and its impact on consumer safety were also brought into the spotlight. As it turned out, many of the dangerous products notified in the Rapid Alert System are sold on online platforms.
To tackle these challenges, European Commission has been closely collaborating with Amazon, eBay and Alibaba to detect dangerous products on these platforms, which are used more frequently by consumers.
Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said, “Consumers need to be protected from dangerous products. And this protection must apply both online and offline. Therefore I am pleased that we could agree with Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba to join efforts to remove products notified through the Rapid Alert System from their websites, and I call on others to follow suit. I am also satisfied that we have made some progress related to China, with the numbers of dangerous goods imported on the decrease this year. This shows that our cooperation with China and our persistence to demand high standards is paying off.”
The Rapid Alert System and consumers
The results presented in the report show that ‘toys’ was the most notified product category. It was followed by motor vehicles; clothing, textiles and fashion items; electrical appliances and equipment.
The ‘toys’ category remains at the top of the list of most notified products since the safety of products intended for children is a priority for product safety authorities.
The most frequently notified risk categories were: injuries, chemical, choking, electric shock, fire. The risk of injuries is at the top of the list mostly because the number of notifications concerning the category “motor vehicles” went up in 2016. Although chemical risk moved to the second place, it remains one of the top risks that may have a long-term impact on consumers’ health, especially children.
The Commission stepped up its collaboration with online marketplaces to guarantee that once they are notified about dangerous products on their websites they will take all the necessary actions to remove those products. In addition, several Member States have already created specialized teams that will monitor web pages and trace unsafe products that are sold online.
On the Rapid Alert System homepage, consumers are able to check out the database of dangerous products detected and subscribe to weekly updates.
The Rapid Alert System and businesses
According to operational guidelines for businesses, producers, importers or distributors must inform competent authorities in case they are aware that a product that is placed on the market is unsafe.
Operational guidelines defines safe product as one that “under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use including duration and, where applicable, putting in to service, installation and maintenance requirements, does not present any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product’s use, considered to be acceptable and consistent with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons.”
Every product placed on the market is a subject to general safety requirements. If a product doesn’t meet these requirements, it is regarded as “dangerous”.
Producers and distributors are held accountable for preventing risks from dangerous products. Therefore, they should take all necessary measures to ensure that dangerous products do not reach consumers.
by Natalie Myhalnytska