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The varying reasons behind clothing recalls

Clothing rarely seems dangerous. The items we wear are there to serve a purpose: to keep us warm in the cold and to help us remain cool — but covered — in the hotter months. Whether functional or stylish, they are essential. But sometimes, things can go wrong and our clothes become risks themselves.

Indeed, ‘clothing, textiles and fashion’ is one of several categories on Safety Gate, the European Union's Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products. And since the beginning of 2019, there have been a total of 41 products in the category flagged as posing a 'serious risk'.

Of course, the reasons why a product is flagged as a serious risk can vary.

For example, the first product flagged this year was a pair of men's trainers from China with the alert coming from Spain. Surprisingly, the risk type associated with it was chemical, with the insole found to have too high an amount of chrorium which can trigger allergic reactions.

A much more common risk type associated with clothing is that of choking. That is particularly the case with children's clothing, where small elements of the product can easily detach and pose a choking hazard to a small child. For example, a babies' clothing set made in Turkey was recalled after an alert was submitted by Hungary. This was because it featured small decorative rhinestones which could easily be detached — with a clear risk of a baby then putting this in their mouth.

Similarly, strangulation is another frequent risk with clothing. Many items of clothing have drawstrings in the neck area, such as the children's jumpsuit manufactured in China which was recalled in February after France submitted an alert. And in the most recent report, there was a children's outfit from Italy which was recalled due to drawstrings in the waist area which could cause serious injuries if they were to become trapped during a child's activities.

Across four months then, and there are three clear risks associated with clothing — chemical, choking and strangulation. Manufacturers have to be mindful of this and take steps during the production process to ensure that these three risks are checked before the item is shipped to market. Doing so will reduce the risk of a recall and the resulting cost — both financially and to your brand’s reputation.

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