Fact Sheet: Misleading marketing

Misleading marketing of chemicals and products is prohibited. The regulations cover all chemicals and products.

In addition to pure chemicals such as acetone, hydrochloric acid, turpentine etc., the rules also apply to household products such as cleaning products, washing powder, glue and paint.

Marketing may not mislead consumers about use and risks

Chemicals and products must not be placed on the market in a way that misleads consumers about the use the product and the risks associated with it. Note the following:

  • Words, descriptions or product names that might give the consumer the idea that the product is without risk to people and the environment are prohibited. This applies to words such as "ecological", "green", "tested", "allergy-tested", "not dangerous", "not toxic", "non-harmful"  "environment-friendly" and "nature";
  • The use of incorrect danger labelling with the symbols required for some substances and products - the so-called R and S phrases, and tactile warnings - is prohibited. Symbols, phrases and warnings likely to be mistaken for such labelling must not be used;
  • There is a ban on writing that the product does not contain a certain substance, unless it is relevant to consumers and the product does not otherwise contain other substances that are equally harmful. Nor is it permitted to write "without organic solvents" if other products of the same type usually do not contain organic solvents.
  • Dangerous chemical substances and products must not resemble food, animal feed, drugs, or cosmetics. Neither must they be called something that resembles the names of such products.
  • Dangerous chemical substances and products sold to private consumers must not be labelled in a way that attracts the attention of children;
  • Labels and texts on chemical substances and products must not be misleading in relation to the danger labelling - or dominate to such a high extent that they divert attention from the danger labelling;
  • Advertising for dangerous chemical substances without also providing information as to which danger classifications they belong to is prohibited.

Only parts of the rules focus on how they are actually violated. In cases of doubt, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency makes an assessment. Therefore, it is important to follow the spirit of the rules.

The rules aim at protecting consumers

The rules aim at protecting consumers against marketing that might mislead them to believe that a product is harmless when in fact it might pose a risk to health or the environment. This is because only a few chemical substances and products are completely harmless under all conditions.

The person responsible for marketing is also responsible for compliance with the rules

The person responsible for marketing is also responsible for compliance with the rules. The person responsible might be the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or retail distributor.
The Environmental Protection Agency's chemical inspectors monitor compliance with the rules, and ensure that illegal situations are brought into compliance. This may involve withdrawing the product from the Danish market, or making the product legal in some other way. Anyone who breaches the rules may additionally be subject to a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

More information

The Statutory Order is available at the website of the Environmental Protection Agency (legislation):
Statutory Order from the Ministry of the Environment no. 50, 12th of Jan 2011 on classification, packaging, labelling, selling and storing of chemical substances and products. Part 6 of the Statutory Order deals with misleading marketing.