Safety Gate – formerly known as the European Rapid Alert System – fulfils a vital role. It allows EU member states to be quickly notified about unsafe products and to take action – including recalling from consumers. At the start of April, Safety Gate released its annual report for 2018 which takes an in-depth look at dangerous non-food products and how countries are responding to them.
The headline figures for 2018 are striking. In total, there were 2,257 alerts received on Safety Gate, with members of the network taking 4,050 follow-up actions in response to these alerts. By comparison, there were a total of 24,329 alerts between 2013 and 2017.
Across the European Union, the most common product categories notified were toys (31%), motor vehicles (19%) and clothing, textiles and fashion items (10%). In the UK, the picture is different. Forty one per cent of notifications were for motor vehicles, followed by toys with 19 per cent and electrical equipment and appliances with 18 per cent.
As for the most common risks, across the European Union, it was injuries (44%), fire (11%) and chemical (11%). The UK differed again – while injuries led the way with 34 per cent, it was followed by electric shocks (17%) and then choking (16%).
Věra Jourová is the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. Launching the latest report in Bucharest, she explained that the current system ‘has teeth’ while pointing out that the majority of the alerts originated from outside the European Union. Indeed, more than half came from products manufactured in China – with the Commissioner stating that China would “need to step up their engagement with us to address this problem”.
And while the warning for China was clear, she also had a message for the EU. She said it was ‘troubling’ that more than a third of consumers would continue to use a dangerous product even after being alerted to the problem.
She has challenged businesses to better communicate the risks and has launched a campaign which aims to give tips to businesses and consumers on increasing the efficacy of a recall. While great work has been done in recent years, it is evident that we still have a long way to go. While the risk for consumers has reduced, it is nowhere near to being eliminated – and truthfully, it never will be. That is why organisations such as ourselves will do everything possible to work with businesses to ensure they have the capability to handle a recall in a way that does minimum damage to their brand while ensuring consumer safety is prioritised.
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