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Rapex: protecting consumers - 16/05/2011

A toy train © istock/mammamaart

Fewer dangerous products reach consumers due to the EU's Rapex rapid alert network.

A record 2 244 unsafe products were banned, withdrawn from the market or recalled from European consumers in 2010 - 13% more than the year before.

Clothing and textiles made up 32% of bans, followed by toys (25%), motor vehicles (9%), electrical appliances (8%) and childcare articles and children's equipment (4%).

The rise in the number of banned articles shows the increasing effectiveness of the EU's rapid alert network for non-food dangerous products, says the 2010 annual report . The network, run by the Commission, circulates information on dangerous goods among national regulators.

Improved cooperation

The number of dangerous clothing and textiles items rose from 2009, partially as a result of cooperation between nine countries on safety checks of cords and drawstrings in children's clothing.

Eleven countries also cooperated in spot checks on helmets used by alpine skiers, snowboarders, cyclists, skateboards, roller skaters, horse riders and children.

They found that 63% of the 367 helmets checked did not carry required labelling, warnings or instructions. Of the 40 helmets selected for further testing, 18 did not meet minimum safety standards.

Better surveillance

New guidelines and a revised risk assessment method also helped regulators detect more dangerous products. Rapex was extended to cover products for professionals and a wider range of risks - the environment, workplace health and safety, and public security.

Safety from the start

‘Safety at source' has become a key focus of EU product safety law. Companies must identify safety risks from the start, check products before they leave the factory and report any problems. Use of a dedicated rapid alert system for business rose 200% last year.

This emphasis on safety also means working more closely with international trading partners, in particular with China, the source of 58% of Rapex's alerts.

More improvements

The Commission is looking into possible updates to EU product safety law, following a public consultation carried out in 2010.

All EU countries along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway participate in Rapex. Other products, such as food and feed, pharmaceuticals and medical devices are covered by other specific alert systems, similar to Rapex.

More on consumer safety

Rapex website

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