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The Alphanumeric Lifesaver - UFI in Focus of at the BfR User Conference on Product Notifications

43/2021, 08.11.2021

The UFI code on packaging provides crucial information for rapid medical treatment

What should I do if my child has drunk drain cleaner? The exact ingredients must be known to ensure a rapid and (medically) appropriate response. Therefore, products classified as hazardous are subject to a legal notification requirement. The 12th User Conference will take place on November 15, 2021, at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin. At this hybrid event, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will present, among other things, its marketing campaign for the Unique Formula Identifier (UFI). The UFI code on packaging provides the poison centres of the federal states of Germany with access to confidential product formulas not disclosed on the packaging. "In case of emergency, patients and medical staff can use the code to quickly access information about the risk of poisoning and the best medical care," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "This is how the UFI can save lives in urgent situations." The BfR helped to initiate the UFI ten years ago and, since then, has continued to play a key role in its conceptual development and technical implementation.

12th BfR User Conference on Product Notifications:

When: Monday, November 15, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CET

Sign up: Until Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at

Target group: Representatives from industry, public authorities and poison centres (all presentations will be translated simultaneously into English).

To the programme:

Link to the BfR app “Poisoning Accidents in Children”:

Chemical products such as detergents, paints and adhesives often contain ingredients that are classified as hazardous. Accidents with these products can happen at any time and anywhere - especially with small children. The first point of contact in the event of a poisoning accident is the ambulance service or a poison centre. Often, however, the product in question cannot be clearly identified during a telephone consultation. The UFI on the packaging is intended to change that: The 16-digit alphanumeric code provides poison centres with a link to important details about ingredients and properties in the poison centres’ product database and thus enables targeted medical advice.

Since January 1, 2021, all new household and commercial products that are classified as hazardous in the European Economic Area (EEA) must carry a UFI code. From 2025, the UFI will also be mandatory for products that were already sold in a member state of the EEA before 2021. Products that are used exclusively in industrial settings are an exception to this. Here, the UFI can also be specified solely in the safety data sheet. New industrial products will be required to display the UFI from January 1, 2024. Companies should also include the UFI on products that are not classified as hazardous. This voluntary information will help poison centres to provide targeted and quick advice in the event of accidents involving these products.

The aim of the ECHA campaign - in which the BfR is involved - is to make parents with young children aware of the purpose of the UFI: The intention is to convey why the code exists and where it can be found. Additionally, parents should be encouraged to check safety issues within their own households.

Companies can use the UFI generator on the ECHA website to generate the code and then notify the properties and formulation of their products to the BfR using the European harmonised poison centres notification (PCN) format. The new PCN format replaced the BfR's own XProductNotification format for many products in January 2021. The BfR User Conference is also intended to clarify any unanswered questions on the new notification procedure. As an aid, the BfR has described the procedure in detail on its website and published answers to frequently asked questions about product notifications.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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