European product recalls rose in 2022 for the second consecutive year

March 7, 2023

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Sedgwick brand protection releases full year of European product recall data and analysis

LONDON, 7 March 2023 – Product recall activity across five key European markets continued to increase in 2022 after returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Sedgwick’s latest European state of the nation recall index report reveals that there were 10,545 product recalls in 2022, a 4.3 percent increase over 2021 numbers.

Sedgwick’s industry-leading European recall index report, released quarterly, analyses UK and EU product recall data for the automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer product sectors. The annual state of the nation report goes beyond the traditional quarterly analysis to provide insights and predictions for the key product safety trends and regulatory developments anticipated for the year ahead. The latest edition of the report analyses 2022 recall data, including the latest numbers from the fourth quarter. It also offers details about why, moving forward, manufacturers and suppliers will need to monitor products more closely and assume responsibility for the total product lifestyle.

Product recall highlights from 2022

  • European automotive recalls increased by nearly a third (31.7%) year-over-year, going from 571 recalls in 2021 to 752 in 2022. In the fourth quarter of 2022, there were 195 automotive recalls, up from 167 in the previous quarter.
  • Despite increasing 7.8% in the fourth quarter, annual European food and beverage recall events fell 3.3% (from 4,674 in 2021, to 4519). ‘Contamination – other’ was the leading cause of recalls in every quarter of 2022.
  • The European pharmaceutical sector also saw a decrease in the total number of recalls in 2022, falling 16.4% from 2021 numbers. For the eighth consecutive quarter, ‘safety’ was the most common cause of recalls.
  • There were 2,754 medical device recalls in 2022, a 4.6% decrease from the 2,886 recalls in 2021. However, the fourth quarter of 2022 saw 740 recalls, equating to a 14.6% uplift on the number of medical device recalls in Q3.
  • European toy recalls increased 43.4% year-over-year in 2022, with the fourth quarter recording the most events for the year at 217.
  • The clothing sector saw recalls increase 58.3% in the UK and Europe, from 151 in 2021 to 239 in 2022. The number of clothing recalls also increased in Q4 from third quarter numbers (239 and 151 respectively).
  • Recalls in the European electronics sector increased by 7.7%, from 336 events in 2021 to 362 in 2022.
  • Automotive – Sustainability and safety will be top priorities for the automotive sector, as both the EU and UK work towards their approaching zero-emissions target dates. Manufacturers will soon need to contend with the European Commission’s Vehicle General Safety Regulation, while the UK government updates its regulations regarding connected and automated vehicles to address technological advancements.
  • Food and beverage – Labelling and product waste will be a focus for regulators in 2023. Businesses in the UK will soon find themselves subject to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requirements for food packaging waste, while companies in the EU may face new regulations under the proposed EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains.
  • Pharmaceutical – Authorities governing pharmaceuticals in both the EU and UK took steps in late 2022 to make biosimilars more accessible, a move that will have important implications for the treatment of chronic conditions in 2023. Businesses in the EU should also pay close attention to the European Commission’s planned review of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation that is slated for early 2023.
  • Medical device – As medical devices become increasingly connected, cybersecurity will become critical to patient safety and manufacturers can expect regulators to tackle the issue in 2023. The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) previewed its approach by releasing a roadmap for regulations in late 2022, and the recently passed EU NIS2 legislation includes cybersecurity rules for medical device manufacturers.
  • Toys – Experts are expecting that the EU’s General Product Safety Regulation will be adopted in early 2023, which will set in motion an 18-month transition period for toy manufacturers to update their operations. The continued sustainability push will also impact the toy sector, as authorities seek to reduce pollutants and make small batteries more sustainable.
  • Clothing – 2023 will bring a continued focus on sustainability, as the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wraps up its investigation into greenwashing claims in the fashion industry and the EU moves forward with its Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles.
  • Electronics – Governing authorities are moving quickly to keep up with ever-advancing technology, especially related to cybersecurity and new developments in artificial intelligence. Businesses in the EU will need to comply with the recently passed NIS2 and the proposed Revised Product Liability Directive.

“Businesses were faced with both economic and geopolitical challenges in 2022, even as EU Member and UK authorities passed and proposed sweeping legislation on a range of issues,” said Chris Occleshaw, Sedgwick’s international product recall consultant. “In 2023, much of this legislation will come into effect and impact products throughout their lifecycle, resulting in increased liability and shared responsibility for product safety across the supply chain. Relationships with supply chain partners will become increasingly important and businesses will need to continue updating their recall and crisis plans as they adapt their operations.”

What’s ahead in 2023

The European recall index is published every quarter by Sedgwick’s brand protection experts. It is the only report that aggregates and tracks recall data across the UK and EU to help industry stakeholders navigate the regulatory environment, product recalls, and other in-market challenges. For more information, please visit

To download the latest recall index, visit state of the nation European recall index report

Tags: Brand protection, brand protection and recall, brand recall, Europe, international, Preserving brands, Product recall, recall data, recall index report