EU alert system finds high number of potentially harmful products

In 2019, the Commission found a record number of potentially dangerous goods for sale in the EU. The report, which looks at a range of products for sale, flagged warnings for more items than previous years. 

Authorities in EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, the UK, and Liechtenstein, exchanged information on over 2000 products last year. This lead to 4,477 follow-ups. This is 10% higher than 2018 and 63% more than 2015. 

What is the Rapid Alert System? 

The Rapid Alert System covers a range of industries and provides the authorities with information on harmful products for sale in the single market. 

In addition, the Commission works alongside member states to increase testing. Last year, this resulted in an additional 75 products being flagged.

In 2019, more reports were filed than in any other year in order to protect consumers. This includes food, electrical items, household goods, beauty and cosmetics, and more. 

When notifications are received, this often results in products being withdrawn from sale or destroyed by suppliers and retailers before they reach consumers. 

What were the biggest concerns? 

The biggest risks to consumers highlighted in the report were products that had the potential to cause physical injury. This was followed by dangerous chemicals found in products. Third on the list was the risk of choking for young children.

Worryingly, the most alerts were issued for children’s toys. For example, one brand of toy cars posed a choking hazard, a soft toy was an electric shock risk, and a type of children’s slime was considered potentially harmful. 

Among other high risk items that were identified in the report were household electrical appliances, cosmetics, cars, and some COVID-related products like face masks, alcohol-based hand gels, and gloves. 

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, said at a press conference, “The system is working and the system is working well. In a single market shared by 450 million consumers there is always a risk of a dangerous product from one member state finding its way into the hands of a small child in another.”

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