New European report identifies rising product recall trends across five major sectors

2020 was undoubtedly one of the most turbulent times for Europe’s manufacturers and retailers. As they fought to innovate, while maintaining standards, performance and compliance, they faced continuous COVID disruption in supply chains, production and distribution channels.

The latest edition of Sedgwick’s recall index report uncovers the extent of the pandemic aftershock on European product safety issues and recalls at the start of this year. Its expert analysis outlines the impact of current economic, social and legislative conditions on seven key industries: automotive, medical device, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, electronics, toys and clothing.

Among the headline findings is the revelation that product recalls have risen across five key sectors, when compared with 2020 quarterly averages.

Medical devices has seen a dramatic rise of 40%. Quality issues remained the most common reason, followed by outside of specifications, software issues and mislabelling. Authorities are increasingly using social media to monitor for potential safety concerns.

Pharmaceuticals has experienced a 35% uplift following an early stage return to ‘business-as-usual’ regulatory oversight. Safety issues generated the most product recalls, followed by failed specifications, mislabelling, quality and notification only.

Automotive product recalls are up 26% and have been impacted by pandemic challenges and exacerbated by Brexit. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are also under increasing pressure from legislators to reduce emissions and improve safety; and from consumers for advanced technology, performance innovation, better in-car connectivity and electric vehicles.

Food & beverage sector product recalls have risen 11% with issues mainly associated with contaminants (natural and chemical) and allergens.

Electronics has undergone an unseasonably large 10% increase in product recalls, with remote working and schooling escalating demand and compounding European component shortages.

On a more positive note, the toy industry has seen a 30% decline in recalls. However, with continual risk from chemicals and choking and the introduction of the new Toy Safety Directive in July 2021, there is no room for complacency.

Clothing recalls are 10% down compared with 2020 quarterly averages. But as social venues reopen and remote working is reduced, consumers may look to spend more on clothing as they venture outdoors. Consequently, we may see issues around high performance and synthetic fabrics rise.

Looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, accurate and reliable insight is vital for anyone involved in the manufacture, supply and sale of foods and goods.

As we strive to anticipate future needs, there is one certainty: reputational risks and product-safety developments will continue to challenge all sectors.

These risks will range from business and supply chain interruptions to regulatory and legislative changes, data and cybersecurity issues, product evolution and technical innovation, financial and environmental concerns.

Industries need to be primed and ready for any recall or market withdrawal situation. The recall index report is an essential reference tool and source of impartial guidance on past, present and future recall data, legislation and product safety trends.

Compiled by Sedgwick’s industry experts, this latest report features legal and regulatory insight from strategic partners at leading law firms and serves as an indispensable guide to ensure that you are fully prepared.

Download your copy of the European recall index here.

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