UK Code of Practice for Tampon Manufacturers and Distributors
Version No.8 dated May 2019. Replaces Version No.7 dated March 17
This code is specific to the UK tampon market. There is a separate code for products sold elsewhere in Europe, published by EDANA. The codes have slightly different requirements, and manufacturers and distributors should seek the advice of national regulatory authorities to ensure they have the correct information. The EU code can be found at http://www.edana.org
The UK Code of Practice is voluntary, however it is stringently adhered to by AHPMA members and is reviewed regularly. This code is available to any company who provides tampons to the UK market.
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AHPMA members take their responsibilities as manufacturers and distributors of menstrual tampons extremely seriously. The safety in use of AHPMA member’s products is their number one priority.
In the UK tampons are regulated by the General Product Safety Directive (EEC Directive 2001/95/EC). In order to meet the requirements of the Directive all AHPMA members have procedures and processes in place to:
- Evaluate the safety of both the raw materials and the finished tampons
- Include provision for traceability
- Ensure that the user is provided with comprehensive instructions for use
Documentation relating to the safety of menstrual tampons is held by each AHPMA member and can be made available to Trading Standards, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as necessary.
The tampon is used for internally absorbing menstrual flow during the period. A range of absorbencies are available (please refer to section 4). These are designed to manage various menstrual flows which differ not only from woman to woman, but also during a woman’s menstrual life and during each period.
Tampon usage is divided between applicator and non-applicator tampons with limited crossover by consumers between the two.
There are several different constructions (see diagrams) which are currently being used for tampons throughout the world, including the U.K:
The absorbent material is in the form of a rectangular or square pad which is compressed in both length and width directions. This tampon expands in both length and width, but predominantly in the lengthways direction.
The absorbent material is in the form of a chevron shaped pad which is compressed primarily in the width direction. The tampon expands in both length and width, but predominantly widthways, mostly in one lateral plane.
3. Swiss Roll:
The absorbent material is rolled up like a Swiss roll and then compressed to produce a tampon which predominantly expands radially in the widthways direction.
4. Swiss Cross:
The absorbent material is in the form of two rectangular pads placed on top of each other at a 90-degree angle. A cord is centrally placed between the pads and the tampon is folded from the centre and compressed radially. Upon expansion the tampon opens in a similar way to that of a flower opening.
Most tampon brands have an additional nonwoven layer or perforated film covering the tampon, which can aid insertion and removal.
The absorbent material in a tampon is formed from viscose rayon or cotton fibres or a mixture of the two.
ECF or TCF (elemental chlorine free or totally chlorine free) bleaching methods are used in tampon production. Chlorine bleaching is never used for fibres used for making tampons.
Tampons should include provision for withdrawal with a suitably attached withdrawal cord to ensure safe and complete tampon removal.
3. Types of Tampons
There are two types of tampon:
1. Digital or non-applicator: These tampons are inserted by using a finger to insert the tampon into the vagina. The finished tampon is usually packaged in a wrapper.
2. Applicator: These tampons are inserted by using an applicator. The applicators are made from an outer and inner tube with the latter fitting inside the outer tube. Applicators are made from cardboard/paper or plastic, sometimes in a compact form. The combined applicator and tampon are usually packaged in a wrapper.
Some tampons may also contain a lubricant or fragrance/scent. Where this is the case it should be stated on pack.
4. Absorbency Classification and Droplet Scheme
Absorbency classifications are required on both the pack and in the leaflet – please refer to section 5 & 6.
Tampons are designed to absorb menstrual fluid and the in-vitro measure of this absorption is through the Syngina test method. The apparatus and test method is detailed in the EDANA test method:
Each set of droplet symbols represent a range of 3g of Syngina absorbency and there are six classes in total.
The categories and classification of absorbency are divided into primary and secondary descriptors: