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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Imitation food: vigilance needed to prevent the risk of accidents

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News of 31/07/2020

Fizzing bath tablets that resemble sweets, depilatory creams packaged like pouches of fruit puree or hand sanitiser sold in wine bottles: such imitations of food products are frequently found on the market. Whether you are a healthcare professional or an ordinary citizen, you can participate in reporting these products to prevent their accidental ingestion, especially by young children.

Since 1987, European Directive 87/357/EEC has regulated products which, because they appear to be other than they are, endanger the health or safety of consumers. Member States that have identified such products may therefore take "all the measures necessary to prohibit the marketing, import and either manufacture or export of the products referred to".

Despite these regulations and the recall of many articles by European control authorities, new products imitating food continue to be sold regularly in shops, in France and abroad. Depilatory creams packaged like pouches of fruit puree, fizzing bath tablets that resemble sweets or, more recently, in the context of the COVID 19 crisis, hand sanitiser solutions sold in wine bottles, have all been reported and subsequently withdrawn from the market.

Too great a resemblance between a detergent or cosmetic and a food can lead to potentially toxic ingestion, especially by children. Health professionals and citizens alike can report these imitations to the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), which will carry out an analysis of the actual risk incurred.