Regulatory Affairs Directorate
Market Surveillance Directorate

Dangerous Imitations

The DANGEROUS IMITATIONS ORDER (ORDER NO. 49 of 2001), transposing European Directive (87/357/EEC), applies to products, which, appear to be other than they are, and can endanger the health or safety of consumers.  These products are those which, although not foodstuffs, possess a form, odour, colour, appearance, packaging, labelling, volume or size, such that it is likely that consumers, especially children, will confuse them with foodstuffs and in consequence place them in their mouths, or suck or ingest them, which might be dangerous and cause, for example, suffocation, poisoning, or the perforation or obstruction of the digestive tract.  No person may place on the market, offer for sale, manufacture, import or export such product/s.

These regulations apply to products which are not edible, but could easily be confused with foodstuffs by their appearance, smell or packaging. Enforcement authorities around the EU carry continuous checks to ensure that no such products are marketed. If a Member State bans a product under the terms of these regulations, it must inform the Commission and provide the details needed to inform the other Member States.  

To view examples of food-imitating products: 1 2 3 4

The soaps, candles and other decorative articles on the pictures are all food-imitating and as a consequence pose a risk of choking, poisoning or perforation of the digestive tract, in particular to young children, because they can be mistaken for food and be sucked or ingested given their shape, colour, appearance and size.  In these cases, the main corrective measure taken by the national authorities (or sometimes on a voluntary basis by the producer or distributor) to prevent the risk to consumers has been the withdrawal of the food-imitating products from the market.

Further information and examples can be found in the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/prod_legis/index_en.htm#other