EU bans DMF in consumer products such as toys and orders recalls

On May 1, a European Commission Decision comes into force to ensure that no consumer product containing the strongly sensitising DMF is placed on the market in the EU. The biocide dimethylfumarate (DMF) has caused severe allergic reactions, including skin itching, irritation, redness, burns and, in some cases, acute respiratory difficulties, in hundreds of consumers in the EU because of its use in imported every day consumer products such as couches and shoes. There has even been one case of a soft toy for small children. If already on the market, these products will have to be recalled and withdrawn without delay, and consumers will have to be informed about the serious risk. The Commission Decision is an EU wide emergency measure, pending the adoption of a more permanent regulatory solution.

Withdrawals of dangerous consumer products jump by 16%

The number of dangerous consumer products withdrawn from the EU market rose by 16% in 2008 compared to in 2007, the Commission’s annual report on the Community rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products (“RAPEX”) reveals today. This rise from 1 605 notifications in 2007 to 1 866 last year shows that the capacity of the RAPEX system has substantially increased again in 2008, following a substantial investment of resources and training by the European Commission and Member States. European businesses in the consumer product safety area are also taking their responsibilities more seriously and recall their unsafe products from the market more readily. Toys with childcare articles (such as bicycles, baby walkers, cots and soothers), electrical products and motor vehicles were the most frequently notified products in 2008. The number of notifications on products of Chinese origin sent through RAPEX increased (from 52% in 2007 to 59% in 2008). This must be seen as a consequence of the focus of market surveillance authorities on product categories known to be of higher risk.