Chemical ingredients and your right to know

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Indy Lifestyle Online

In June 2007 the EU passed legislation regarding consumers' right to know about any products that contained chemicals listed as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), but a new study published in October found that retailers are shirking their responsibilities.

The legislation, known as Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, or REACH, allows any consumer to enquire into the chemicals contained in any product. In accordance with European law, retailers and manufacturers are obliged to provide an answer within 45 days, free of charge.

From January to August 2010, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a federation of over 140 environmental citizens' organizations, tested retailers' attitudes towards this legislation. The results, published in October, found that of 158 'right to know' requests sent to 60 multinational retailers and brands across Europe, 50 percent were not answered, and out of the answers received, over 75 percent were deemed unsatisfactory in that they did not fulfill minimum REACH requirements.

The requests for information were sent as if they were from a consumer, not a governmental organization, and covered a large variety of products such as shoes, pencil cases and children's toys.  

Any EU customer concerned about the chemicals contained in their purchase can simply send a letter to the retailer concerned, stating information about the product in question.

Further information about REACH can be found on the website of the European Union at:

The full report into retailers' responses to REACH information requests can be found here