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Long-delayed EU strategy on hormone disrupting chemicals - roll out is matter of urgency

07 November 2018
by BEUC -- last modified 07 November 2018

Chemicals which change our hormonal system, so-called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are linked to severe health problems, including infertility, obesity, cancer and genital malformations. Today, the European Commission published a strategy on how the EU can address EDCs - a long overdue update to an earlier 1999 strategy.


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Consumers may encounter these harmful chemicals in many everyday products, such as cosmetics, toys or food packaging. The annual cost to European society caused by EDCs is estimated at 163 billion.

The Commission among other things outlined plans to clarify the – scattered – set of rules governing EDCs in consumer products and to identify where gaps exist and need to be filled. This is a welcome and much needed step towards better protecting consumers against endocrine disruptors. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) expects that this strategy, while it only announces the EUs work in the years to come, will ensure that loopholes such as on EDCs in cosmetics, toys and food packaging are closed without delay.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, comments:

"EU action on endocrine disruptors is overdue. Hormone disturbing chemicals pose a serious threat to the health of current and future generations and too much time has been wasted bickering about definitions and testing methods. This strategy is a real chance to tackle the problem head-on.

"It would be irresponsible to adopt a wait-and-see approach. The gaps in consumer protection are evident: EU laws on cosmetics and toys fail to have any clout tackling EDCs, while for many product groups such as textiles or absorbent hygiene products no rules exist at all.

"Consumers in Europe care about the chemicals in the products they buy. A mobile phone app which informs consumers about undesirable substances developed by our member in Denmark, Forbrugerrådet Tænk, has for example been downloaded 280,000 times and used to scan 6 million products. A similar French app from consumer group, UFC-Que Choisir currently clocks more than 700,000 users."

BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for its members and our main task is to represent them at European level and defend the interests of all Europe's consumers. BEUC investigates EU decisions and developments likely to affect consumers, with a special focus on five areas identified as priorities by our members: Financial Services, Food, Digital Rights, Consumer Rights & Enforcement and Sustainability.

European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)