World Footwear


ECHA apologises for misleading claims on leather goods and footwear

May 3, 2024 CEC
ECHA apologises for misleading claims on leather goods and footwear
The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has apologised for an infographic published on its communication channels which misleadingly attributed carcinogenic properties to leather goods and footwear
ECHA’s misleading communication was highlighted on the 15th of March in a joint letter from the European Leather (COTANCE) and European Footwear (CEC) industries denouncing as inaccurate and misleading an infographic on ECHA’s ‘Preventing Cancer’ campaign website and related LinkedIn post.

The organisations stressed that the infographic gave “the impression that leather automatically contains Chromium VI, and that this presence is likely to cause cancer”, causing unwarranted consumer concern because “Chromium VI is not used for tanning leather and that Chromium tanning is not the only tanning method in the sector”. The letter also clarified that the actual EU restriction on Chromium VI in leather relates to its potential skin-sensitising properties, not its carcinogenicity.

ECHA replied on the 9th of April saying: “We apologise for this error and have corrected the infographic, as soon as our attention was drawn to it, to reflect the actual situation. We have also removed the LinkedIn post referred to in your letter.”

While COTANCE and CEC appreciate ECHA’s “swift action”, they expressed their “profound disappointment” at the Agency’s failure to take full responsibility for the damage caused to these sectors. “It is a good thing that ECHA rectified, but we regret that they did not fully capture our concern; they have managed the issue like a simple “editorial mistake””, said Carmen Arias, Secretary General of CEC.

“We believe the harm done to the reputation and appeal of the leather value chain would need something more”, she concluded, as the organisations called for further action, such as a formal corrigendum to repair the unintended consequences of their actions.

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