The General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) requires that information about products or, if necessary, the batch of products, must be provided on products or their packaging. The Government decree on information to be supplied in respect of consumer products and services (613/2004) also lays down the provision that, where necessary for consumers safety, consumer products must carry a production batch identifier or other information necessary for the identification and, where necessary, tracing of the consumer product. Some product groups, such as toys and cosmetic products, are covered by specific provisions on traceability laid down in special legislation concerning these product groups.
Under the Consumer Safety Act, operators are responsible for the safety of products manufactured, imported and sold by them. Operators must know where the raw materials used were sourced and where the products were passed on in the delivery chain.
If it comes out that a product involves a risk to safety, the operator must withdraw it from the market and consumers and inform consumers about the risk. If a product does not carry a batch or other identifier, it is difficult to recall only the specific hazardous production batch, and that may result in major expenses for the operator when several potentially hazardous batches must be reclled. Marking the production batch or other identifiers makes it easier to isolate problems, facilitating product recall and minimising financial losses. Traceability also supports other business needs such as stockpile and delivery management and monitoring of wastage.
There are reasonably easy and inexpensive technical solutions available for product traceability, ranging from raw materials management via the production process all the way to retail. Technological tracing methods have been successfully employed by the food industry and trade in particular.
Benefits of consumer product traceability:
- enabling targeted product recalls in crisis situations;
- enabling the provision of specific information to consumers and monitoring authorities;
- improving consumer security: enabling the quick withdrawal from the market of products posing a health risk;
- improving enterprise security: enabling quick location and rectification of defects;
- ensuring monitoring authorities' access to information;
- preventing unnecessarily strong market disturbances.