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Unsafe products - an overview

If a product on the European market causes a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers, action can be taken at three different levels to eliminate the risk.

Actions at Member State level (RAPEX)

What is RAPEX?

RAPEX is a European rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products. It ensures information about dangerous products identified in the Member States is quickly circulated between the Member States and the Commission.

How does RAPEX work?

Actions at Business level

Producers and distributors must inform the competent national authority where they know (or ought to know) that a product they have placed on the market (e.g. a toy or an electrical appliance) is dangerous. This means that producers and distributors are responsible in the first instance for preventing any risks posed by the dangerous products they place on the market. When, how and to whom producers and distributors should notify is described in the Guidelines.

Actions at Community level

Under certain conditions, the Commission may adopt a formal Decision requiring the Member States to ban the marketing of an unsafe product, to recall it from consumers or to withdraw it from the market. Such Decisions at Community level can be taken:

A Decision of this kind is only valid for a maximum of one year. To date, two Decisions of this kind have been taken at Community level:

Notifications of dangerous products by producers and distributors
Leaflet prepared by the European Commission in order to promote an obligation of producers and distributors to notify to the competent national authorities of the Member States unsafe products placed on the EU market