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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Dangerous products resembling foodstuffs — ensuring consumers’ safety

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Dangerous products resembling foodstuffs — ensuring consumers’ safety



Directive 87/357/EEC concerning products which, appearing to be other than they are, endanger the health or safety of consumers


It applies to items, such as cosmetics and liquid household products, which are not edible, but because of their shape, smell, colour, appearance, wrapping, labelling or size, might appear to be so. Children are particularly vulnerable and could be tempted to try to eat such products.


  • EU countries must:
    • take all necessary measures to ban the sale, import, export and manufacture of the products covered by the legislation;
    • check that such dangerous products are not being sold on their territory;
    • take off the market any products being sold and inform the European Commission of the product and the reason for the decision.
  • The Commission must inform all other EU governments of the decision as quickly as possible.
  • By 26 June 1989 and on the basis of a Commission report on implementation of the legislation, EU governments had to decide whether the directive should be extended to cover other dangerous products.

On 3 December 2001, EU governments and the European Parliament agreed on legislation on general product safety which requires manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe before selling them.


It has applied since 26 June 1987. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 26 June 1989.


In an opinion adopted in March 2011, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety noted that there was a low risk of acute poisoning in either children or the elderly from accidentally eating cosmetics. For household products, there is a slight increase of a more serious outcome. In addition, there is a lack of specific data on accidental ingestion from consumer products resembling food and/or having child-appealing properties.


Council Directive 87/357/EEC of 25 June 1987 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning products which, appearing to be other than they are, endanger the health or safety of consumers (OJ L 192, 11.7.1987, pp. 49-50)


Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety (OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, pp. 4-17)

Successive amendments to Directive 2001/95/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 01.08.2016