Half of all of the tattoo shops inspected by the federal public health ministry in 2019 were not operating in line with the rules, according to health ministry.
Responding to a parliamentary question from MP Else Van Hoof (CD&V), the ministry revealed that 106 shops had been visited last year for inspection, 54 of which had failed to come up to the standard required by law.
The tattoo industry is growing in Belgium: from 266 shops in 2012 to 784 in 2017, with a total of around 500,000 tattoos placed according to the ministry’s latest figures.
The majority of the faults found by inspectors concerned the dates relating to the use of needles and ink, the existence of a document signed by the customer explaining the risks of tattoos and piercings, and the presence of washable walls and surfaces in the tattoo parlour.
Federal inspectors from the ministry routinely carry out inspections whenever there in a complaint from a member of the public, for example in the case of an infection suffered following a tattoo. However between 2015 and 2018 that was the case in only 17 cases.
In only one case in that time period was the shop required to close.
“Anyone who is thinking of getting a tattoo needs to be sure it will take place in safe and hygienic surroundings,” Van Hoof said. “That is why inspections for hygiene and safety are crucial.”