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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.

Consumer products

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, food contact materials 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, food contact materials or other commodities, which come into contact with foodstuffs or humans, the BVL coordinates 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, food contact materials and other commodities that do not meet the standard of German regulations but are, however, legally manufactured in or legally placed on the market of 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.

Tobacco Products
In addition to health and consumer protection, the aim of tobacco legislation is above all to reduce the attractiveness of new smoking, especially among young people. For example, health-related large warnings, which consist of pictures and texts, are obligatory. The BVL provides the warnings in German on application. The application form can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The use of characterising flavours such as menthol or vanilla, which cover the smell or taste of tobacco in cigarettes and roll your-own tobacco, is prohibited.
Tobacco legislation applies to tobacco and related products. That means that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, e-shishas, etc.) are also covered by tobacco legislation.
Manufacturers and importers of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and refill containers and herbal products for smoking shall submit a notification via the EU-Common Entry Gate (EU-CEG) to the competent authorities of the Member States of any such products that they intend to place on the market. The BVL is the national contact point for EU-CEG.
The BVL is responsible for the authorisation of novel tobacco products. Authorisation is given on application by the manufacturer or importer. In accordance with Directive 2014/40/EU ‘novel tobacco product’ means a tobacco product which does not fall into any of the following categories: cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco, waterpipe tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, nasal tobacco or tobacco for oral use and which is placed on the market after 19 May 2014.

Cosmetics
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 a list 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 or importer (= responsible person) has to subject every material contained in a cosmetic product to a detailed safety assessment. All cosmetic products must be notified in the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP). Where undesirable effects occur, companies must record them in their product information file and report them to an authority in the event of serious undesirable effects. The BVL is the national contact point for the notification of cosmetic products, the notification of serious undesirable effects and administrative cooperation in the EU. In addition, aspects of advertising claims for cosmetic products are regulated EU-wide in order to protect consumers from being misled by advertising for cosmetics.

Tattoo inks
Manufacturers and importers of tattoo inks are obliged to provide the BVL with data about the composition of their products. The BVL provides this data to poison information centres, to allow fast medical action in the case of an emergency.

Food contact materials
The requirements for materials and articles that come into contact with food have been harmonized throughout the European Union. According to Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 food contact materials shall not transfer substances to food in quantities, which could endanger human health, bring about an unacceptable change in the composition of the food or a deterioration in its organoleptic properties.

Other Commodities
Other commodities are articles intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin (e.g. clothing, jewellery, wigs), toys and joke articles, cosmetic packaging, as well as domestic cleaning and impregnating agents and air fresheners. These products shall not constitute health hazards when used in the designated or a foreseeable manner. Chemicals legislation also needs to be taken into account in this product sector.

At present this English content is the only available in the field of Consumer products. 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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