On 12 November 2018 the EU Commission announced that its rapid alert system formerly known as ‘RAPEX’ is being updated and rebranded as ‘Safety Gate’.  Aside from the rebranding, the main new features of the Safety Gate platform are that it is more accessible to consumers, being now available in 25 languages, and it is capable of being shared by consumers via social media.

With certain exceptions, this online product safety database covers dangerous non-food products.  It includes cosmetic products, but not medicines or medical devices.  It is populated by alerts of potentially serious risks posed by such products.  In line with applicable EU legislation, economic operators are required to notify risks presented by products that they have placed on the market in the EU to the competent national authorities in the Member States in which the affected products have been sold.  The legislation requiring such notification is the General Product Safety Directive, or sector-specific legislation with similar effect, such as the legislation applicable to toys and electrical goods, as implemented in each Member State.  The legislation also obliges operators to take corrective actions, such as product recall, if appropriate.

On receipt of notification from the economic operator, the Member State competent authority assesses the risk and transmits information regarding any perceived serious risks to the Commission and to other Member State authorities via the Safety Gate platform.

There are guidelines for economic operators on notifications.  It is understood that the Commission will issue more streamlined guidance for Member State national authorities regarding onward notification by them to the Safety Gate platform.  A helpful online risk assessment tool enables operators and regulators alike to construct risk assessments, including for the purposes of submitting notifications to Safety Gate.

The platform is also a valuable resource for businesses; it can, for example, be searched by retailers to check that the products they sell are not subject to a recall.