RAPEX (European rapid system for dangerous non-food products) - RASFF (European rapid system alert for food)


There are two different alert systems of surveillance in Europe: RAPEX for fashion (included under the scope of general products), and RASFF for food. The procedures are similar for both. 

RAPEX stands for the Safety Gate of the EU: It is the Rapid Alert System for Dangerous non-food Products. It is a tool to ensure that information on measures taken against non-food dangerous products is going to be disclosed quickly and circulated among the national authorities responsible for product safety in the Single Market countries. Every day, national authorities send alerts to the Safety Gate. Each alert contains information on the kind of product detected as dangerous, a description of the risk and the measures taken by the economic operator or ordered by the authority. Every alert is followed-up by the other authorities, which take their own measures if they find the same product in their own national markets (European Commission, 2022). Once there is an alert of a product in a country, other countries have to follow up this information, in case this product has been sold in their own markets. In case they find it, they should share this information on Safety Gate as well. RAPEX was established by The Article 12 of Directive 2001/95/EC on General Product Safety (GPSD). Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 extended the application of RAPEX provided for in Article 12 of Directive 2001/95/EC also to products covered by that legislation (consumer products and professional products such as some medical devices), broadening the scope of risks, including security and environmental risks. Risks concern not only consumers, but an indeterminate group of people referred to in the regulation as “end-users”.  

In March 2019 the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2019/417 of 8 November 2018 was published, laying down guidelines for the management of this rapid Information System RAPEX. It was necessary to update existing guidelines among other reasons, because of the increase on cross-border online purchases, and the new business models like sharing and rental, that offer services instead of products to consumers.  

RAPEX includes the products covered by the GPSD: “products intended for consumers”, and “migrating products”, those designed and manufactured for professional available to consumers to be used without any additional training. According to Article 2 (a) of the GPSD, products provided to consumers in the context of a service are also to be considered.  Under Regulation (EC) No 765/2008, product for the purpose of RAPEX shall mean a substance, preparation or good produced through a manufacturing process other than food, feed, living plants and animals, products of human origin and products of plants and animals relating directly to their future reproduction.

Other products covered by specific regulations like food and feed, medicinal products, medical devices, etc., are not under the scope of RAPEX.

RASFF stands for the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed in the European Union. The EU has robust food safety standards to ensure that food is safe for consumers. RASFF is a key tool to guarantee the flow of information to facilitate the reaction when risks to public health are detected in the food chain. It was created in 1979, and promotes the collaboration and sharing information between the EU members and Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. As in the case of RAPEX, if food products are found unsafe, the information exchanged through RASFF will oblige to recall them from the market. 

This Alerts Systems are considered important in terms of sustainability, because they guarantee that products placed in the EU market are safe. They contribute to increase the awareness of both producers and consumers, as nothing is more unstainable that producing articles that need to be recalled.  

These systems of rapid alerts exist in many other countries under different names. To cite only a few, for general non-food products (the ones that apply to textiles and fashion) are: “Recalls and safety alerts”, Government of Canada; ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission); CPSC (USA); AQSIC (China).