Prohibition of the “skin-friendly” claim for biocidal products: ECJ decision

ECJ, 20 June 2024, C-296/23


The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the “skin-friendly” statement for a biocidal minimizes the biocidal risks and is misleading. It adopts a very strict conception of authorized biocidal claims.


Products covered by the biocidal regulations

Biocidal products are intended to be used against harmful organisms using active substances. These include, for example, sanitizers, insecticides and fungicides.

The advertising of a hygiene biocidal product was implicated in this case.


Regulation of biocidal products in the EU

Regulation 528/2012 of 22 May 2012 strictly regulates the placing on the market of these products. It is based on the premise that these products are necessary but risky for human and animal health, as well as for the environment.

In particular, it provides that advertising for biocidal products must not mislead consumers about the risks to health or the environment.

It prohibits the words ” low-risk biocidal product“, “non-toxic“, “does not harm health“, “natural“, “environmentally friendly“, “animal-friendly” or any other similar indication.

The issue in that case was to interpret the concept of similar indication.


Prohibited claims and misleading advertising


The regulations prohibit:

  • generic claims (e.g. “non-toxic”);
  • specific claims, as long as they have a positive connotation and are likely to minimize the risks of using the product (e.g. “skin-friendly”).


The following arguments are not relevant in assessing the validity of the claims:

  • The fact that they are true;
  • The fact that they can provide consumers with important and useful information;
  • The fact that, in accordance with the regulations, the advertisement clearly and legibly indicates that the product must be used with care and that the label and labelling information must be read before use.


NB: It should be borne in mind that the purpose of the regulation is to limit the use of biocidal products to the minimum necessary and to take appropriate precautionary measures.

To sum up

Only claims that do not minimize or exclude the risk of the biocidal product are acceptable!

In this case, the claim should probably have clearly recalled the risks associated with the use of the product.


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