A new label element will appear on product labels from 2020 – a 16-character code called the unique formula identifier (UFI). By 2025, the UFI will be mandatory on the label of all products classified for health or physical hazards. Importers and downstream users placing such products on the market, will have to provide specific product information, including the UFI, to poison centres.
WHAT IS A UFI?
The unique formula identifier, known by its acronym UFI, is a 16-character alphanumeric code that will be required on the label of your products that contain a hazardous mixture.
In addition to the UFI, you are also required to provide other information on your mixture and associated products to poison centres, such as composition, trade name, colour, packaging, product category and toxicological information. The UFI aims to establish an unambiguous link between the information you provide with the product you place on the market.
HOW WILL THE UFI BE USED?
The UFI and the other information you have provided, will primarily be used by poison centres in the event of an emergency call. For example, the UFI can be read directly from the label of a product to a poison centre operator in addition to the trade name to precisely identify the product involved in an incident.
DOES THE UFI ALWAYS HAVE TO BE INCLUDED ON THE LABEL?
The UFI must be printed on or affixed to the label of all your products containing hazardous mixtures. It is also possible to indicate the UFI on the package of the product provided it is in close proximity to other labelling information.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR A UFI CODE ON THE LABEL?
The acronym ‘UFI’ (the same in all EU languages and alphabets, and not to be translated) must be in capital letters and be followed by a 16-character alphanumeric code. The code is divided into four blocks, each separated by a hyphen. While no specific requirements have been set, for instance, for font type or size, the UFI has to be clearly visible and legible on the label of the product. Given the variation in label sizes, and other labelling requirements competing for label space, the UFI should be positioned so that it is easy to locate (e.g. near the barcode or hazard pictograms). In essence, you must determine how the UFI is displayed on the product in the most effective manner to assist with its communication to poison centres.
BY WHEN SHOULD THE UFI BE ON THE LABEL?
In all situations, the timing for including the UFI on the label of the product must coincide with the submission of harmonised information. It is not recommended to place the UFI on the label of the product if that UFI has not been included in a notification to the appointed body. In such cases, an ‘empty UFI’ will not provide any assistance to poison centres in the event of an emergency.
For mixtures not already on the market, your obligations to submit harmonised information and place the UFI on the label will apply from:
• 1 Jan 2020 (consumer use)
• 1 Jan 2021 (professional use)
• 1 Jan 2024 (industrial use)
If you have existing mixtures already on the market, you may benefit from a transitional period which ends 1 Jan 2025. This means that after this date, all mixtures classified for health or physical effects will be required to bear the UFI on the label.