This book examines the European Community legislation that regulates the safety of consumer products. Hodges surveys the extent to which this legislation aims to and succeeds in achieving safety for a wide range of products. There are different legal requirements for medicines, machines, electronics, toys and so on, which employ different regulatory mechanisms, including pre-marketing assessment, provision of information, control of the manufacturing environment, post-marketing obligations on producers and authorities, and obligations on distributors and users. Hodges compares the various mechanisms relating to medicinal products, products covered by 'New Approach' Directives, cosmetics, biocides, tobacco products, and consumer products covered by the General Product Safety Directive, and asks why particular mechanisms are used, or not used for different products. The book then moves on to consider what is meant by product 'safety', demonstrating the relativity of this concept. Hodges highlights an important problem: that consumers, the media, and experts can all have differing ideas on the level of safety that is relevant and acceptable.
Hodges contends that the systems are in need of review, to ensure they work effectively and give value for money. In some cases, there is an need for more or less control. He argues for more systematic collection of safety data, and for consistency in surveillance and enforcement mechanisms across Europe, pointing towards the need for a European Product Safety Agency.