This week the European Commission has published its annual report on Safety Gate, the system it operates to track and report on product safety issues in the EU. This year's report shows that the number of reports of potentially unsafe products continues to increase year-on-year.
Key takeaways are as follows:
- In 2020, national authorities in the EU submitted 2,253 alerts for dangerous products and 5,377 follow up notices, with a significant increase in November and December.
- 26% of alerts referred to products sold online, up from 16% in 2019. Whilst this represents the wider shift in purchasing habits across Europe as a result of the pandemic, it is recognised as posing additional challenges for product safety monitoring and traceability.
- As in previous years, toys are the most notified product category, making up 27% of notifications (down slightly from 29% in 2019). We know regulators take a particular interest in toys and children's products, given the vulnerability of their typical users, and the corresponding high level of protection expected.
- Unsurprisingly, 2020 saw a particular focus on PPE and other Covid-related products not operating as they are supposed to (of which there are 161 reports relating to masks), making up 9% of total reports.
- An increasing number of online marketplaces are committing, via the European Commission's voluntary "Product Safety Pledge" to check products listed on Safety Gate are not for sales on their platforms, and to act within two working days in case of a takedown request by a national authority.
- The European Commission has revamped the Safety Gate website, to make it simpler to locate alerts, and more user-friendly to ensure consumers are able to access up to date information on product safety issues.
Finally, the European Commission has launched its 2021 Product Safety Award, with applications open now. There are two categories: (i) protecting the safety of vulnerable consumer groups and (ii) combining safety and new technologies. If your business (or someone you know of) is going the extra mile in these areas, apply here before 30 April 2021.
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