European Commission Proposes Amendments to Toy Safety Directive and Launches Public Consultations
23 March 2020
The European Commission has published two draft Directives and launched public consultations with regard to each proposal. Feedback can be provided by all interested parties until 3 April 2020. The first proposal aims at prohibiting the use of three allergenic fragrances in toys and the second proposal aims at adding 61 allergenic fragrances to the list of fragrances which require labelling. These proposals take into account opinions and recommendations of different expert committees.
Hong Kong traders will be familiar with Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys (the “Toy Safety Directive”). The Toy Safety Directive lays down the safety criteria that toys must meet before they can be marketed in the EU. It takes into account various risk fields, such as risks stemming from physical and mechanical properties, flammability and issues of hygiene, and electrical, radioactivity and chemical risks.
As part of preventing chemical risks, the Toy Safety Directive also allows the European Commission to prohibit or to require labelling of allergenic fragrances in toys.
It has been noted that contact allergy to fragrances is a common, significant and relevant problem in Europe and that exposure to fragrances can occur from the use of many different consumer products, including toys. Recently, a trend to add fragrance chemicals to many types of consumer products, such as children’s toys, has been observed. The concern is that such additives may contribute significantly to the fragrance exposure of consumers through the skin.
In evaluating these concerns, the European Commission is assisted by several independent risk assessment bodies, such as the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (“SCCS”), its predecessor, the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and non-food Products intended for Consumers (“SCCNFP”), the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (“SCCP”) and the Expert Group on Toys Safety. These bodies advise the Commission in the preparation of legislative proposals and policy initiatives in the area of toy safety.
The European Commission also takes into account scientific evidence from Member States. The Environmental Protection Agency in Denmark carried out a survey of allergenic substances in products for children. The survey is said to have revealed the presence of allergenic fragrances in toys, such as modelling clays, slimes, dolls, teddy bears, and rubber bands.
The SCCS established that consumers are exposed to fragrance substances from a wide variety of cosmetics, other consumer products, pharmaceuticals and occupational exposures. The CSSC stated that in the context of contact allergy, all exposures are relevant, as it is their sum which is critical, not their source.
The Expert Group on Toys Safety pointed out that the nature of a fragrance as an allergenic substance is an intrinsic property of the substance, and therefore independent from the use of the substance. Consequently, the Expert Group considered that an allergenic substance presenting a risk in cosmetics could equally present a risk in toys. It therefore underlined the necessity of taking account of the opinions of the SCCP, the SCCS and of its predecessor committees on allergenic fragrances in cosmetics when regulating allergenic fragrances in toys.
The Toy Safety Directive lays down a general prohibition of 55 allergenic fragrances in toys in order to prevent potential allergic reactions in children. The prohibited fragrances are listed in the first paragraph of point 11 to Part III of Annex II to that Directive. No toys sold in the EU may contain any of these substances.
The first draft Directive which is being proposed by the Commission expands the list contained in Annex II to the Toy Safety Directive as regards the prohibition of three additional allergenic fragrances in toys placed on the market in the EU. The European Commission follows the opinions of the SCCS, the SCCP and the SCCNFP according to which the use of these chemicals in cosmetics is not safe, and the recommendation of the Expert Group on Toys Safety according to which their use in toys should be prohibited.
The fragrances that are proposed to be added to the Toy Safety Directive are atranol (2,6-Dihydroxy-4-methyl-benzaldehyde), CAS number 526-37-4, chloroatranol (3-Chloro-2,6-Dihydroxy-4-methyl-benzaldehyde), CAS number 57074-21-2 and methyl heptine carbonate, CAS number 111-12-6.
Furthermore, the Toy Safety Directive defines a number of fragrances which need to be listed on the toy, on an affixed label, on the packaging or in an accompanying leaflet, if added to a toy at concentrations exceeding 100 mg/kg in the toy or components thereof. The prohibited fragrances are listed in the third paragraph of point 11 to Part III of Annex II to that Directive.
The second draft Directive expands the list contained in Annex II to the Toy Safety Directive as regards the labelling requirements for allergenic fragrances in toys. So far, 11 allergenic fragrances already have to be labelled on toys placed on the market in the EU. Following expert opinions, the European Commission concluded that an additional number of 61 allergenic fragrances should be included in the table as subject to labelling requirements.
Feedback to the draft Directive expanding the list of prohibited allergenic fragrances and the draft Directive expanding the labelling requirements for allergenic fragrances can be provided until 3 April 2020 via the website of the European Commission.
- Toys & Games