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Risk management from A to Z

The BVL is responsible for coordinating certain monitoring tasks for all commodities - i.e. products which come into contact with food or your body, such as packaging materials and cleaning products, household chemicals, cosmetics and tattooing agents – and for tobacco products as well. The BVL regularly informs the German Poison Information Services about the composition of cosmetic agents and tattooing agents. Apart from that, the BVL provides a list of products for prevention of Infections.


The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) assumes the tasks of risk management and coordinates the process of monitoring by the Federal States (Bundesländer) for tobacco products, cosmetics and other commodities which either come into contact with humans directly or with food for human consumption. Moreover, the BVL plays a consultative role in the domestic legislative process as well as in international treaties. Regarding tobacco products, cosmetics or other commodities which come into contact with foodstuffs or humans, the BVL initiates investigation programs to uncover data in respect of the occurrence of undesired materials in such products. The data prepared by the BVL serve as a basis for risk assessment as well as for decisions if steps should be taken to improve the situation.

There is a basic right of the free movement of goods within the EU. This also applies to tobacco products, cosmetics and other commodities that do not meet the standard of German regulations but are, however, legally manufactured in another EU Member State, in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway (European Economic Area) or are legally put into circulation or originate from a third country and are legally in circulation in the EU/EEA. To import such products, the importer requires the so-called General Disposition, which must be applied for at the BVL. The BVL may reject an application for the issuance of a General Disposition only if there are compelling reasons of health protection militating against it.

Other Commodities
Other commodities are products predestined to come into contact with foodstuffs and human beings. Foodstuff and cosmetic packaging, toys and joke articles, clothing, wigs as well as specific cleaning and impregnating agents shall not constitute health hazards when used in the designated or a foreseeable manner. Moreover, in the case of commodities with foodstuff contact, no such material shall pass into foodstuffs from the commodities that may have an olfactory or flavourful impact or result in an unacceptable alteration of the composition of the food. The BVL coordinates the monitoring and supervision of investigation programs and assists the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in a consultative function.

Body lotion, shampoo or bath salts, shaving foam, perfume or deodorant spray, soap, toothpaste or suncream, make-up, manicure or baby oil: to get them into circulation on the German market, cosmetics must meet the standards of applicable regulations. In general, all ingredients of cosmetic products must be declared in an index of ingredients. They can be identified by means of INCI labelling. The consumer is thus able to watch out for certain ingredients in case of a known allergy. Cosmetics shall not exert any health-endangering impact when used as intended. Therefore, the manufacturer has to subject every material contained in a cosmetic product to a detailed safety assessment. Moreover, manufacturers and importers of cosmetic products are obliged to report the composition of their products to the BVL. These data are exclusively intended for usage in emergency situations in order to be able to initiate medical counter measures. The BVL has the legal mandate to make the composition of cosmetic products available to poison information centres.

Tobacco Products
On a yearly basis, manufacturers and importers of tobacco products are legally obligated to inform the competent authorities of the Bundesländer on the nature and volume of all additives used in the manufacture of tobacco products. Moreover, in the case of cigarettes, the rate of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide contained therein have to be stated. Furthermore, the toxicological data on the additives and their combustion products available to the manufacturer has to be attached. The BVL prepares the data for the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, with which consumers are informed about tobacco additives. Finally, the data are passed over to the European Commission. Tobacco products are either made completely from, or using raw tobacco and are for smoking. Such products include cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff. Cigarette papers, cigar wrapping papers, mouthpieces and filters also fall into this category.

Prevention of infections
Diseases which are transmitted by insects and vertebrates like cockroaches and rats pose a health hazard to humans. It is therefore necessary to prevent and detect infections as early as possible and forestall their spread. Fighting such insects and vertebrates as are able to transmit diseases and as governmentally ordered by virtue of § 18 of the Infection Prevention Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz) requires chemical, biological or mechanical agents and processes that must be tested for effectiveness as well as their impact on human health and the environment. If agents have positively passed through the process, they are publicized in the Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz once every year. In the process, the listing of these agents and processes is subjected to specific conditions that should contribute to minimizing the entry of these agents into the environment. If combating measures are officially ordered in accordance with the Infection Prevention Act, only tested and recognized agents and processes will be applied by professionally well-informed pest control experts.

At present this English content is the only available in the field of Commodities. More English content will be provided soon. If you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know by using the contact form.

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