Why the UFI matters for everybody
What’s a UFI?
If the products you buy contain harmful chemicals, you need to know about the UFI code.
A UFI code is a sixteen-character code that you can find on the labels of certain products that may be harmful to your health. These range from cleaning products you use at home to chemicals used in professional or industrial environments.
UFI stands for unique formula identifier. It creates a link between the product in your local store and information about its ingredients and toxicity, which has been sent to European poison centres.
The UFI code contains four blocks of numbers and letters, each separated by a hyphen. In front of the code, you will always find the acronym ‘UFI’.
Since 1 January 2021, all new products containing chemicals that are harmful to your health and sold to consumers in the EU must have a UFI code. However, you may sometimes still find products in your local store without a UFI code, as the companies have until the beginning of 2025 to add the code to those products that were already sold in the EU before 2021.
Why is the UFI important?
If you, or one of your family members, would accidentally get exposed to a product containing harmful chemicals, in most cases, your first point of contact is either a poison centre or the emergency health services.
Based on the statistics collected from the European poison centres, in approximately 40 % of calls, it is difficult for the poison centre to quickly and accurately identify the product involved in the accident.
So, the idea of the UFI code is simple. As the UFI is linked to information about the product, its uses, ingredients and toxicity, having the code at hand makes it easier and faster for the poison centre operator to advise you or your physician on correct treatment if any, or a need to visit a hospital.
Where on the label is the UFI found?
Packaging comes in all shapes and sizes which means that the UFI is not always in the exact same place on the label of each product. However, the UFI should always be clearly visible on the product label near its trade or brand name, or the hazard information that includes, for example, the warning symbol and advice how to use the product safety.
The UFI may even appear on the product as a sticker, but in any case, the UFI should never appear on the bottom of the package.
Which products have a UFI code?
Some examples of products that may include a UFI are:
- Adhesives such as common glue sticks or more specialised adhesives for wall coverings or flooring;
- Air care products from room deodorisers to scented candles;
- Art and craft supplies such as finger or hobby paints;
- Cleaning and maintenance products both for indoor areas, such as the kitchen or bathroom, and for outside areas like terraces or stone pathways. Other specialised products include e.g. those meant for cleaning cars and footwear;
- Detergents for washing laundry, washing machine or dishwasher care agents, as well as fabric softeners;
- Mixtures for electronic cigarettes;
- Garden chemicals such as plant fertilisers and pesticides;
- Fuels such as grill lighter fluids and lamp fuels; and
- Inks and toners for printers.
However, you will not find a UFI code on labels for cosmetics like hair dyes, shampoo or hairspray, or in pharmaceutical products, as they are regulated by different laws.