Safety Gate: the key to Consumer Protection
Safety Gate is the tool used by national authorities of 31 countries (EU/EEA Member States and the UK) to notify the European Commission of non-food products that pose a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers.
Since 2003, it has ensured a rapid alert system that allows for a daily exchange of information on:
- The type of products identified as dangerous;
- A description of the risks;
- The measures taken to eliminate the risks.
On a weekly basis, the European Commission publishes an update of the most recent alerts, facilitating follow-up actions, such as withdrawal or recall from the market of dangerous products and the issuance of warnings to consumers. In addition, an annual report gives an overview on all the alerts and follow-up actions taken by each individual national authority throughout the year.
The impact of the pandemic in the 2020 Safety Gate Report: dangerous COVID-19 products
On March 2, 2021 the European Commission has published its 2020 Safety Gate Report, which analyzed 2253 submitted alerts and 5377 follow-up actions across Europe. Of all alerts, 9% concerned COVID-19 related products failing to meet their intended purpose. In particular:
- 161 alerts on unsafe masks;
- 13 alerts on hand disinfectants containing toxic chemicals;
- 18 alerts on UV lamps exposing users to dangerous radiations;
- 3 alerts on specific coveralls.
The new challenges of online shopping
As online marketplaces have become the primary platform for the sale of COVID-19 related products, ensuring consumer protection is increasingly challenging. For this reason, the Product Safety Pledge launched by the European Commission in 2017 is of crucial importance. According to the report, two new marketplaces (Joom and Etsy) have joined the initiative, bringing to eleven the number of signatories.
Additionally, the European Commission has launched the EU’s Product Safety Award to recognize “the businesses that go the extra mile”(2021) and invest in protecting the safety of vulnerable consumer groups, as well as combine safety with new technologies.
Giorgia de Stefano
Regulatory Affairs Department
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- European Commission. (2021). Protecting European consumers: Safety Gate efficiently helps take dangerous COVID-19 products off the market. Retrieved on 27.04.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_814
- European Commission. (2021). Facing the unexpected together. Safety Gate – 2020 results.Retrieved on 27.04.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/safety/consumers/consumers_safety_gate/statisticsAndAnualReports/2020/RAPEX_2020_report_EN.pdf
- European Commission. (2021). Safety Gate: the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products. Retrieved on 27.04.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/safety-gate/#/screen/pages/safetyAward
- European Commission. (2021). Product safety pledge. Retrieved on 27.04.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/product-safety-and-requirements/product-safety/product-safety-pledge_en