5 June 2023

Product safety better regulated in new EU Product Safety Regulation

Category: Food and commodities practice, Regulatory Compliance

Consumers will have more protection from unsafe products. For example, products that are flammable, harmful to health or dangerous to children. For each product, either the manufacturer or a person liable for product safety must be established in the EU. Otherwise a product may not be offered in Europe and the Netherlands.

New EU Product Safety Regulation

These and other rules are part of the new EU General Product Safety Regulation, which replaces a 2001 directive and also applies to all products for which specific safety rules do not yet exist. The regulations will apply everywhere in the EU after a transition period starting December 13, 2024, and will be incorporated into the Commodities Act in the Netherlands. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), as the regulator, will enforce the legal rules in the Netherlands, cooperating with national regulators in other EU countries.

Tougher rules on unsafe products

These rules apply to products for sale in physical stores as well as on online platforms. If a specific product is deemed unsafe by a regulator, online platforms in the EU must also remove all identical products at the request of that authority.

The stricter requirements are necessary because the same rules for product safety or consumer protection do not apply in countries outside the EU. Online platforms have started to sell more and more products from Asia and America directly to European consumers in recent years. This has not only led to unfair competition for Dutch entrepreneurs, but also to more unsafe or illegal products that are not available or allowed in the EU. Consumers also often find it difficult to contact sellers from countries outside the EU in case of defects or unsafety.

Assessment of safety of products

The safety of a product offered to the public should be assessed taking into account all relevant aspects of the product, in particular its characteristics, such as the physical, mechanical and chemical characteristics, and its presentation, as well as the specific needs and risks which the product represents for certain categories of consumers who are likely to use the products, in particular children, older persons and persons with disabilities. Those risks can also include environmental risk insofar as it poses a risk to the health and safety of consumers. That assessment should take into account the health risk posed by digitally connected products, including the risk to mental health, especially of vulnerable consumers, in particular children.

Technical documentation of products

Manufacturers should draw up technical documentation regarding the products they place on the market, which should contain the necessary information to prove that those products are safe. The technical documentation should be based on an internal risk analysis carried out by the manufacturer. The amount of information to be provided in the technical documentation should be proportionate to the complexity of the product and the possible risks identified by the manufacturer. In particular, manufacturers should provide a general description of the product and the elements necessary to assess its safety. In the case of complex products or products presenting possible risks, the information to be provided might need a more extensive description of the product.

Consumers get more rights in recall of unsafe products

Consumers also get more rights in the situation that a purchased product is unsafe and the seller has to recall it. The seller must then always offer at least 2 of the following 3 options: a safe replacement product of the same original value, repair the product in such a way that it is safe, or refund the full purchase price to the consumer. Providers of online marketplaces should designate a single point of contact for consumers.