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Recall blues spells bad news for tattoos

When thinking about the industry’s most likely to be affected by chemical goods recalls, tattoo parlours would probably not be the first one that came to mind. Yet so far this year, tattoo artists look to be amongst the hardest hit with tattoo ink accounting for 65% of all chemical product recalls.

The risks to customers from unsafe tattoo ink can be serious as some of the chemicals can cause neurological disorders, severe allergic reactions, or even cancer. As a result, all of the recalls so far this year have resulted in the products being withdrawn from the market.

Beyond tattoo ink, the other main category of chemical product recalls has been e-cigarette fluid (5), tire repair kits (1), anti-corrosion coating (1), and glue (1). This is particularly worrying for e-cigarette manufacturers because, as debates about the long-term health effects of vaping continue to run, multiple recalls will only add to public concerns.

Perhaps predictably, given their status as major manufacturers, most of the recalled chemical products originated in United States (11) and China (8), with one apiece coming from Russia, Latvia, and Malaysia. The origins of the final product are unknown. While the US is currently responsible for nearly half of all recalled chemical products, by the end of the year we would expect it to be overtaken by China, as has happened in other categories.

So far in 2020, there have been around 9 recalls per month. Should this rate continue for the rest of the year, it will mark a significant lift over 2019, which had just under 6 recalls per month. Coupled with the threat of increased regulation for e-cigarettes from countries like US and UK, 2020 threatens to be an annus horribilis for chemical manufacturers.

The increased number of chemical product recalls should be a warning to all manufacturers in the industry. It’s impossible to eliminate the risk of recalls but there is a great deal that firms can do to plan ahead of time and mitigate the potential financial and reputational damage. Every firm needs to be ready to act should the worst happen.

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