Report "Evaluating business safety measures in the toy supply chain"

On the 5th June 2008 in Brussels, European Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva presented a report by independent experts entitled "Evaluating Business Safety Measures in the Toy Supply Chain." The Report was carried out at the initiative of the European Commission, as a follow up to the Commission's product safety Stocktaking review in Autumn 2007. The stocktaking was undertaken after a series of high profile recalls to review the strengths and weaknesses of the existing mechanisms to ensure product safety in Europe.

The expert report published on the 5th of June, represents the results of a five-month analysis of product safety measures in the toy supply chain. The evaluation found that Chinese authorities and manufacturers have made significant progress in tackling toy safety concerns. Amongst the key conclusions, the report found that it is the smaller players in the market, such as small European importers and traders and small Chinese manufacturers that tend to be the weak link in the product safety chain.

They find it most difficult to fully understand and ensure compliance with the applicable legislation and standards. A second area where weaknesses have been detected is in relation to the expertise available within Member States' enforcement practices and the role of the testing laboratories. The report sets out a series of practical recommendations addressed to each of the stakeholders in the supply chain to strengthen safety controls. The research found this was the case due, amongst other reasons, to a lack of in-depth knowledge of the applicable rules, a lower number of dedicated personnel, and weaker quality management systems and supplier control.

The main conclusion of the evaluation is that product safety cannot be guaranteed by final product testing alone, but has to be embedded in the entire product development and production process. Adopting and maintaining a strong quality and safety culture is a critical element in ensuring continuous attention to product safety issues.

The report presents over 50 recommendations to strengthen the current system for ensuring toy safety, targeting all key actors in the supply chain. To facilitate the process of taking these recommendations forward at European level, the report also recommends establishing a multi-stakeholder forum, building on the work of the expert group, to discuss the practical implementation of the various proposals.