How to identify illegal Personal Protective Equipment on the EU market

eea ce flag

Unfortunately, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there has been an increase in counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) being sold globally, these forged illegal items are dangerous and can be life threatening because they do not meet the strict standards set out by governing bodies. With the increase of fake products and especially forged documents how can you ensure the personal protective equipment your buying is legitimate with all the correct certificates? In this article we will look at how to spot illegitimate PPE products on the EU market.

Counterfeit Personal protective equipment (PPE) can be hard to spot and even the most experienced buyers can get caught out by non-compliant products or forged documents. It is important to follow these steps when purchasing any PPE products.

  • PPE products should be supplied with usage instructions and marked with a CE mark.
  • Make sure you request CE and ISO certificates and inspect before purchasing. You can use our CE check sheet here.
  • Make sure the declaration of conformity matches the product and CE and ISO certificates. You can use our declaration of conformity check sheet here.

Official EEA CE Mark

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products being sold to the European Economic area (EEA) EU markets require a CE mark. CE stands for “Conformité Européene” a French phrase that translates to European Conformity the CE mark ensures the product conforms to EU directives and strict regulations that prove the product conforms to health and safety directives as well as environmental directives proving the product is safe for the end user.

Official EEA CE mark

Chinese Export CE symbol

The Chinese Export symbol can be seen on some products manufactured and exported from china. At a first glance the Chinese export symbol could be mistaken for the official EEA CE mark as it looks almost identical. However, products with this symbol have not undergone any risk assessment, testing or safety evaluations making them non-compliant and therefore illegal on the EU market.

Chinese export CE symbol

Difference between EU CE mark and the “Chinese export” CE symbol?

Here you can see the difference with each mark with this side by side view. As you can see they are very similar but the dimensions and in some cases the proportions are not the same. The EU CE mark has the E started on the circular profile drawn out by the C character.

Although the CE mark may be legitimate it is important to still check all certificates to ensure the supplier has not changed any of the elements to save money after the application has been granted, changes of elements could impact the efficacy of the product.

CE mark comparison

Legal Implications

All products sold within the European economic area must bare the CE mark it is up to the The European union and the national authorities to monitor that all products being sold have the official CE mark, many procedures are carried out to ensure they do so. If a product is found with a fake CE mark the economic operator may be liable for a fine or imprisonment. Legal implications depend on the seriousness of the crime. Some manufacturers may be given the opportunity to prove their product is safe for EU markets before the product is removed from the market.

If you believe a product is being sold with a fake CE mark or consider the product unsafe you should contact your respective national surveillance authorities Immediately.