The Fraud Squad has controlled certain products that imitate foodstuffs and therefore present a risk of confusion that primarily concerns children, especially the youngest. A regulation in this field exists, but remains unknown.

Products, imitating, foodstuffs:, real, danger, for, children

Sparkling salts in the form of cupcakes, decorative items imitating Easter eggs, candles in the shape of pastries or fruit, cosmetics reminiscent of drinking compotes... imitation food products regularly circulate on the market. But beware, because they can cause potentially serious ingestions, mostly in young children who confuse them with food. This risk has just been recalled by the DGCCRF (French Fraud Control Agency) after conducting a survey whose results reveal that although the rate of anomalies is limited (7%), the regulations applicable to these products are generally unknown to professionals.

Since September 1992, products likely to be confused with foodstuffs must comply with a decree (No. 92-985) on the prevention of risks resulting from the use of certain products imitating foodstuffs (known as the "confusion" decree). The scope defined in Article 1 of this decree includes all products that are not foodstuffs, but also products "that consumers can reasonably foresee could be confused with foodstuffs in view of their similar characteristic(s) with the imitated foodstuff, in particular shape, odour, color, appearance, packaging, labelling, volume or size. »

Products "in constant renewal"

However, such products must not pose a risk to the health and safety of persons, especially children. Children can put them in their mouths, suck on them or ingest them, with possible consequences such as choking, intoxication, perforation or obstruction of the digestive tract. The Fraud Squad, which inspected 282 establishments as part of its investigation, is concerned by the fact that "the products concerned are constantly being renewed, affecting both the cosmetics sector (depilatory cream, bath salts, effervescent bath "cupcakes", soaps) and the toys sector (memory foam products) or decorative items. » 

Latest example: in the context of the VIDOC crisis 19, hydroalcoholic solutions sold in wine bottles were reported and then withdrawn from the market. The visual inspections carried out by the organization were used to detect flagrant anomalies and to direct samples to products suspected of being dangerous, "either under the confusion decree or under other regulations (toys, cosmetics). ", he says. All regulations combined, out of 54 samples, 33 were deemed non-compliant, including 24 "non-compliant and dangerous". The whole of the anomalies noted led to the drafting of 17 warnings, 1 injunction and 1 administrative report. 

Laundry detergent capsules, water pearls... other identified risks

"It emerges from this survey that the "confusion" decree remains largely unknown or misunderstood. On the other hand, the professionals inspected were generally willing and able to take appropriate corrective measures, which is why educational follow-up in the form of warnings was preferred. ", concludes the DGCCRF. It should be noted that this warning comes a few days after the one issued by Anses* on the same subject before the end of the year festivities. The health agency also specified that both health professionals and citizens have the possibility of reporting these imitations to the DGCCRF, which will carry out an analysis of the risk incurred.

The ANSES had also warned consumers against super-absorbent polymer beads, whose cases of ingestion by children have been on the rise in recent years. Commonly called beads or water pearls, they are attractive to younger children who may mistake them for candy and swallow them. If they have not reached their maximum size at that time, they can continue to swell in the digestive tract and cause an intestinal obstruction. Another frequent alert from the DGCCRF concerns laundry detergent capsules: small in size, pleasant to the touch and often coloured and scented, this makes them attractive to young children who may put them in their mouths or play with them. 

*National Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety Agency