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COTANCE and CEC say chrome VI complaint is unfair

European Union leather industry bodies COTANCE for leather and CEC for shoes have issued a forceful response to claims from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) that its inspectors are finding “high concentrations” of chromium VI in finished products.

COTANCE and CEC were two of a group of representative bodies to give a joint response to a press release the ECHA issued on February 28 highlighting the presence of restricted chemicals in products including toys and jewellery as well as leathergoods.

In the joint statement, these organisations said they support market surveillance and welcome the enforcement projects the ECHA runs, but insisted the examples the ECHA flagged up were not representative of the market for their products in the European Union.

“The report and accompanying statement published by ECHA were unnecessarily alarming,” the statement said. “As a result, reputable manufacturers and retailers are penalised twice. Firstly, cheated by unfair competition from rogue traders bringing non-compliant products to the market. Secondly, through negative press attention and a lack of clarification that safe products can be purchased from reputable players.”

They have called on the ECHA to explain that there is no need for consumers “to worry unnecessarily” because reputable companies “invest time and resources to make sure the products they put on the market are safe”. In addition, the industry bodies suggested that future ECHA communications should reflect “the challenges faced by reputable manufacturers who play by the rules”.

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