Custom officers at Le Havre has so far confiscated 20,000 electric devices imported from China that are unsafe because they do not conform with electrical safety regulations.
People using them face the risk of getting an electric shock. In particular it is possible for young children to get their fingers inside when it is plugged in and receive a nasty shock. There were also no instructions with the devices on how to use them safely.
Customs officials examined the cartons because they had no obvious logo or manufacturerâ€™s mark and they were therefore suspicious. They were sent to a laboratory for testing and found to be unsafe.
Altogether customs officials have confiscated over 100,000 unsafe products so far this year at Le Havre which has container ships from all over the world arriving. They include steam irons, toasters, battery chargers, blenders and electric bicycles.
More and more goods are being checked at the docks. The latest available figures show that 51 million items were checked by French customs in 2012, an increase of 70% compared with the previous year.
Out of items that were tested some 34% were found to be faulty last year compared with 22% in 2011. Other items that have been found faulty include childrenâ€™s pushchairs that could cause an injury, toys that could cause injuries or contained banned chemicals, and breathalysers that would give false readings.
Cigarettes are one of the most common items being smuggled because they are expensive in France and fake medicines and health goods are also common.
The latest figures from the European Union shows that â‚¬1 million of counterfeit goods were seized in 2012 of which 30% were cigarettes, 9.84% packaging materials and 8.51% were clothing.
China was the largest exporter of counterfeit products with 64.5% originating from the country while Hong Kong was the main source for electronic cigarettes and the liquid fillings used in them, and Bulgaria for packaging materials.
â€˜Customs is the EU’s first line of defence against fake products which undermine legal businesses. The figures show the intensity and importance of the work being done by Customs in this field,â€™ said Algirdas Å emeta, the commissioner for taxation and customs.
â€˜I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual property rights in Europe, through our work with international partners, the industry and member states,â€™ he added.