Changing regs, increased ESG scrutiny keep product recall volume high

Product recalls remain high in Europe as regulators enforce new legislation and examine and respond to ESG-related challenges.

This is according to data from Sedgwick, whose latest European product recall index for the third quarter found that food and beverage recalls in particular continued to rise, from 1,120 recalls in Q2 to 1,178 recalls in Q3 2021. For the third consecutive quarter, contamination (other than bacteria) remains the leading cause of food and beverage recalls (37% of all events).

Automotive recalls saw a 14% quarter-over-quarter decrease, according to the index. Quarterly volumes remain higher than pre-pandemic levels despite decreased demand for vehicles and pandemic-related supply chain challenges.

Pharmaceutical recalls dropped 29% in the third quarter despite the incremental increases seen in previous quarters. Pharmaceuticals produced in France continue to be the most likely to be recalled. Medical device recall activity grew 6% in Q3 (to 709 events) and remains 38% above 2020’s quarterly average. There was a broader range of recall causes this quarter, with software events as the leading cause for recall.

Electronic recalls fell 7% in Q3 (to 71 events) but remained 26% higher than 2020’s quarterly average. This heightened activity reflects a continued focus on electronics safety as businesses continue to navigate in-person and remote work environments.

Third quarter toy recalls remained consistent with last quarter at 81 events. This remains 23%, down from Q1, which recorded 105. Choking risk was the leading cause of recall with 24 events.

Clothing recalls dropped to 30 recalls in Q3, after almost doubling last quarter. Children’s products are the focus in clothing recalls, representing two-thirds of all recall events this quarter.

“Manufacturers are operating in one of the most turbulent and uncertain times in recent history, facing greater supply chain challenges, cybersecurity issues and regulatory changes. Additionally, focused efforts in the EU for more sustainable business practices will influence risk and recall rulings,” said Julie Ross, international business development director at Sedgwick.

“Leaders should plan to take a fresh look at their practices and processes in 2022 to ensure their teams are prepared to comply with new legislation and stay protected in the event of a recall or safety inquiry.”

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