Following a recent French court ruling, companies working with products that come into contact with food are advised to make sure their products not only comply with food contact material (FCM) standards but also with general product safety standards.
The Montauban court ruling awarded more than one million Euros to a young woman after her pressurized whipped cream dispenser exploded. The incident, which happened in December 2013, caused severe damage to her skull, a cerebral hemorrhage, partial facial disfigurement requiring cosmetic surgery, and she has lost her sense of taste and smell. The surprisingly large compensation amount, to be paid by the importer and its insurance group, reflected the severity of these injuries and her continued inability to work.
This is one of several reported incidents involving pressurized cream dispensers in France since 2010. In some cases, the dispenser was being used for the first time, in others it had been successfully used many times without incident. In the majority of cases, the defective device has a plastic head and an aluminum body, and had been purchased between 2010 and 2013.
These reported incidents all resulted in severe injuries to the hands, thorax and/or head, caused by the shrapnel created in the explosion. In an incident in June 2017, a woman was even killed when her dispenser exploded, causing the upper part of the container to impact against her breast, resulting in severe injuries and eventually death.
Following investigations carried out by the Direction Generale de la Concurrence de la Consommation et de la Repression des Fraudes (DGCCRF), suppliers of these defective articles have been mandated to withdraw them and recall sold products. More than 200,000 defective products have been identified and recalled. The DGCCRF has noted, however, that communication between supplier and customer is not always effective, demonstrated by the continuation of reported accidents. The DGCCRF has called for manufacturers and distributors to increase the visibility of their recalls.
Suppliers of food contact products and FCM need to be aware of their responsibilities in regard to general safety requirements, as delineated in the EU General Product Safety Directive. These must be adhered to, in addition to the requirements for food safety.
Rapid Exchange of Information System (RAPEX) data and German NGO recall information, shows that this is not a problem that is restricted to pressurized cream dispensers among FCM and food contact products. Recent recalls include, electric water kettles, bread-makers, gas ovens, food processors and espresso machines.
SGS Home Furnishings & Houseware Services
SGS’s technical experts have extensive experience of testing materials and articles in contact with food. They can ensure that products meet the appropriate regulations for food contact materials and general safety, and pave the way for compliance. SGS offers the full range of testing, including migration tests, along with expert advice on emerging regulations, compliance issues and documentation review. Learn more about SGS’s Home Furnishings & Houseware Services.
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