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Questions and answers - Global Recalls Portal

Commission Européenne - MEMO/12/791   19/10/2012

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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 19 October 2012

Questions and answers - Global Recalls Portal

What is the GlobalRecalls Portal?

The GlobalRecalls portal is a joint initiative developed by the US, the OECD, the EU, Canada and Australia. The portal's primary purpose is to pool recalls about dangerous non-food products from all over the world into one single entry point. The database will be enriched on a regular basis with alerts on dangerous products from the EU, US, Canadian and Australian authorities.

How does GlobalRecalls relate to RAPEX?

RAPEX is the European rapid alert system for dangerous products. RAPEX notifications are already made available to the public on the Commission's website. From now on this information will be pooled (together with similar data from other jurisdictions) and will be systematically fed into GlobalRecalls.

Why is the global portal important?

Change in consumers' purchasing behaviour

The past five years have seen a slow but steady increase in the level of cross-border shopping. In the last 12 months, almost a third of EU consumers (31 %) made at least one purchase in another EU country (5 percentage points increase since 2006). Despite the fact that the majority of these purchases are "face-to-face" the level of cross-border distance purchases has grown more quickly in recent years than the level of purchases made when travelling in other EU countries

In the EU, the number of consumers purchasing goods and services over the Internet is rising steadily since 2004. More than four out of ten EU consumers (43%) have purchased goods and services over the Internet in the past year.

Both from a global and a European perspective there is, however, considerable variation among countries. More than 50% of adults from Japan and several European countries ordered or purchased goods or services on the Internet in 2008, while in a number of other OECD countries, less than 10% did so.

Increasing exposure to risky products and growing number of recalls

At the same time, the number of recalled products has increased. For instance, in South Korea, the number of recalls increased by about 25% in 2012, when compared to 2011. An increase by 8.5% in the number of recalls was noted in Australia in the current fiscal year, when compared to a year earlier. From 1992 to 2006, toy recalls increased at a faster rate than the increase in imports from foreign countries in the United States. This trend was also observed in the European Union, which shared 1,803 notifications via its RAPEX information-sharing system in 2011, when compared to 139 notifications in 2003.

The importance of ensuring the safety of products - and therefore of consumers - is high. The cost of product-related injuries and death worldwide exceeds USD 1 trillion per year.

Need to pool information on recalls for a swifter response from consumers, retailers and national authorities

With an expected 3000 product recall notices per year, consumers, businesses and authorities will have access to a remarkable pool of information on recalled products, enriched on a regular basis by the EU (through RAPEX), US, Canadian and Australian authorities.

EU RAPEX data rates, for 2011, 1803 recalls and foresees a monthly contribution to the GlobalRecalls of around 100 recalls, starting from the month of August (current year).

This is a concrete action of our global approach and global commitment to safe products at every step along the global supply chain from factory to front door.

Need to address safety concerns in a consistent way by:

  • Promoting harmonization of standards

  • Providing web access to studies on hazards

  • Pooling information on product hazards on a web based platform

  • Enhancing international cooperation on traceability

What information can we find in this global database?

Information on recalls of non-food products from the markets of all jurisdictions participating in the Global Recalls Project.

The mapping of products to a common taxonomy will assist users in identifying problems occurring with the same or closely related products.

Users will also access information in the language of their choice, which will greatly enhance transparency.

Example: If users look for information on "Pushchairs", they may run a search with the key words "baby buggy, carriage, perambulator, pram, stroller" They will access the same information as if they had used the word "Pushchair" in the first place and find also cases coming from jurisdictions which did not use the word "pushchair".

Who benefits from this portal?

The GlobalRecalls portal will enhance information sharing across jurisdictions and support them in taking corrective actions (recalls, correction of a marketed product, ban of products). The portal is also beneficial to consumers and businesses.

Consumers can use this portal to check that there are no safety alerts about the products they intend to buy, which can be particularly useful when making online purchases from abroad.

Businesses can improve tracking of emerging hazards from around the world which will help them to move quickly to address problems and also prevent problems by improving their product design.

What are the benefits?

For governments, the portal will bring benefits by enhancing information sharing across borders in a timely fashion. It will enhance enforcement actions as well as transparency on the market. 

For consumers keen to compare products, for example mothers of younger children, teens, etc., the portal would be an easier way, while shopping, to check the safety of a product imported from other parts of the world. It will also assist consumers when purchasing online and across borders and it will become even more interesting when a mobile app will be made available.

For businesses, notably for product manufacturers, the portal could provide information that would enable them to move more swiftly to address a safety problem, thereby reducing the number of incidents causing injury, and the costs associated with them. This could lower the risk facing producers, which could, in turn, lower insurance costs.

Small businesses/importers could find it helpful when dealing with suppliers from overseas.

Who feeds in the notifications? Is there any quality control of these notifications?

The information gathered in the portal is provided by governments (US, Canadian, Australian, EU). This information is first validated at domestic level and is usually published on the jurisdiction’s websites. The data comes thus from a reliable source.

How will this portal evolve over time?

The official launch of the portal terminates phase I of the project. Next steps to encompass: feeding more of the historical data into the portal, activating regular updates of new data, enhancing translation capabilities, as well as gathering data from more countries.

Link to the Global Recalls portal: globalrecalls.oecd.org/

IP/12/1127


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