made in china.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Martin Abegglen, used under CC BY-SA

China again topped the list in 2015 for supplying the largest share of dangerous consumer products sold in the European Union, the bloc's executive announced Monday, while noting that the safety of products bought online posed a growing challenge.

China is the EU's largest supplier of goods, according to the European Commission. But the country, including Hong Kong, was also the source of 62 per cent of non-food products flagged as potentially dangerous last year via an EU-wide rapid alert system.

"If you look at the figures in terms of Chinese imports, it's not satisfactory in the long run," said Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner for consumer issues. She said she would visit China to address the issue in June.

The country has led the ranking ever since it was introduced in 2003, an EU official said.

Beijing's biggest problem is traceability, Jourova said, with Chinese authorities unable to work out where one in three potentially harmful products were manufactured. Beijing is notified whenever Chinese goods are flagged in the EU alert system.

One particular challenge is the increase in online sales, Jourova said.

Products delivered directly to consumers "may not have been subjected to safety verification," the commission wrote in a statement. More than 65 per cent of Europeans buy products online, it noted, with this proportion having risen by 27 per cent in the past decade.

In 2015, an overall 2,072 items were registered in the EU's RAPEX rapid alert system - a slightly lower figure than in the previous year. When one member state flags a product as potentially harmful, others are informed.

Clothing, textiles and fashion items, as well as toys, generated the most alerts, as in previous years. Motor vehicles, electrical appliances and fashion jewellery were also high on the list. The most frequently identified risks were chemical, injury and choking rates.

Examples include toys containing toxins or small parts that could easily detach and create a choking hazard, clothes dyed with harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin, and electrical devices presenting a fire hazard.

Most RAPEX notifications were made by Spain, Hungary, Germany, Britain and Bulgaria last year. Goods manufactured inside the EU were also flagged as being potentially harmful, including 73 products from Germany, 46 from Britain, 35 from Italy and 34 from Poland.

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