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The Safety Endeavour: Advances & Concerns Shape the Recall Landscape

22 May 2015

Food & Consumer Product Recalls Drop in First Quarter, whilst Automotive Notifications are Voluntary.

Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, the global leader in product recalls, has reported that recalls and notifications have decreased in the first quarter of 2015, due to heightened recall awareness and significant efforts to improve product safety. Additionally, automotive recalls, whilst accelerating, have all been voluntarily initiated.   

The findings come as Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS publishes its quarterly European Recall and Notification Index, which is based on data from the EU’s RAPEX and RASFF rapid alert systems.  

The Q1 2015 Index provides early evidence that new safety standards in some countries are working, and less dangerous products are making it to consumers. Additionally, the Index shows a shift in consumer attitudes, one that rewards manufacturers who take proactive voluntary action. However, even with these improvements the lack of cohesive safety standards across all EU countries continues to cause challenges, particularly in the food and consumer product industries.  

During the first quarter of the year, automotive industry recalls and notifications continued their accelerated pace. There were 69 motor vehicle recalls in Q1 2015, an increase of 1 per cent from the prior quarter and up 38 per cent from Q3 2014. Q1 saw the highest number of automotive recalls in the last four years.  However, 100 per cent of these actions were voluntary by manufacturers, an increase of 82 per cent compared with the previous quarter. 

“The data strongly suggests that auto manufacturers have a keen understanding of the value of a timely, well-handled and proactive recall,” commented Farzad Henareh, Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS European Vice President. “The automotive industry has shown leadership in its attitude on notifications and recalls, and sets an excellent example with its commitment to safety.”

Thirty-two automotive brands initiated a recall in Q1, of which 11 experienced two or more. The leading causes of the recalls related to safety with brakes, seat belts, gearboxes and steering.

Consumer Products
Consumer product recalls and notifications declined by 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2015. With 422 events, this was the lowest quarter for recall activity tracked in the last seven quarters. The clothing and toy subcategories initiated only 114 recalls, a drop of 30 per cent over the previous quarter. Meanwhile clothing, textiles and fashion saw an even greater decrease of 62 per cent in comparison with Q4 2014.

However, the Index does show that some subcategories, including jewellery and electrical appliances, are still struggling. This is largely due to products being packaged and shipped from countries with varying levels of safety regulation.

The food sector is benefiting from new EU labelling regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, which requires the mandatory inclusion of allergens on food labels and other important information on pre-packaged processed foods. There were 755 food recalls and notifications in Q1 (comprising food, feed and food contact material), a decrease of 6 per cent over the previous quarter. Some categories, including nuts, nut products and seeds, experienced increased recalls of 67 per cent over Q4 2014, largely because of issues with aflatoxins in products coming from India and China. Fruit and vegetables, as in previous quarters, contributed to 27 per cent of Q1 activity, driven by large scale recalls impacting multiple markets.

“The challenges in both the consumer products and food sectors are largely related to the lack of a cohesive safety standard amongst all the EU countries,” continued Henareh. “Globalisation makes the supply chain more susceptible to unsafe or contaminated products getting through the system as there are inconsistencies in manufacturing processes and standards across countries. As the EU looks for the best solution, manufacturers have to focus on the reality of implementing effective recalls and ensure their business strategies enable them to plan ahead and meet the vital challenge of securing customer safety.”     

The Stericycle European Recall and Notification Index Q1 2015 is available to download. Please contact press office for more information.

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