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What are the EU Requirements Concerning Polybags and Suffocation Warnings?

August 6, 2007
Question 

What are the requirements concerning suffocation warnings on plastic bags holding products sold in the European market? Does every poly bag require a warning? Or, does it depend on the opening size or other criteria?

 

Answer 

There is no EU legislation that governs suffocation warnings on polybags or on plastic bags generally. The European Committee for Standardization sets technical standards for plastic bags, but this does not extend to suffocation warnings.

There is, however, one area of EU legislation that refers to suffocation in the context of packaging (which may include plastic bags) — The European Toy Safety Directive [Council Directive of 3 May 1988 on the approximation of laws of the Member States concerning the safety of toys (Directive 88/378/EEC)]. Article 1, Section II of Annex II of this Directive states that: "Toys and their parts and the packaging in which they are contained for retail sale must not present risk of strangulation or suffocation." Toys are defined as "any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children of less than 14 years of age." If a manufacturer complies with the safety standards set for toys by the appropriate European standard-setting bodies, then there is a presumption that the manufacturer is also in compliance with this legislation.