European Product recalls decline by 9% in Q3

According to the findings in Sedgwick’s latest quarterly recall index report, product recalls across five key sectors in Q3 2022 actually fell by 9% overall.

However, it stressed that industries are nonetheless grappling with changing regulations which reflect new technology, new channels of commerce and more stringent sustainability criteria. 

The rapid development and implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evidence of this, it said, with the UK and EU both advancing rules around the use of the technology, though each jurisdiction is adopting a slightly different approach.

In addition, it said, supply chain issues continue to impact businesses, as recent updates to the European Union’s Product Liability Directive (PLD) mean that more stakeholders in the supply chain, including retailers and distributors, are now being held accountable (and subject to losses) instead of the manufacturer shouldering all the responsibility.

The index reveals that the overall number of recall events fell by nearly 9% compared to the previous quarter, however the quarterly averages for consumer goods and automotive remain higher than in 2021. 

In contrast, the quarterly averages for recalls in the food, medical devices and pharmaceutical industries are lower.

European food and beverage recalls fell 10.0% to 1,040, compared to Q2. The leading cause was contamination ‘other’, accounting for 370 events, followed by bacterial contamination and unauthorised substance.

In the pharmaceutical sector, there was a 25.0% fall in recall events to 60, compared to Q2. As with the previous six quarters, safety was the most common cause, accounting for 20 recalls. Failed specifications were the second most common cause, cited in 12 recalls.

There were 646 recalls in the medical device sector, a 10.2% decrease compared to Q2. For the fifth quarter in a row, software issues were the most common reason for recalls, cited in 110 cases, a 35.8% increase on last quarter. Device failure and false results were the next two leading causes.

The number of automotive recalls across Europe increased slightly to 167 events, compared to 163 in Q2. As it has been for the past five years, injuries were the leading risk associated with automotive recalls, with 135 events, or 80.8% of notifications. Fires were the next most common risk, cited in 23 recalls.

Electronics recalls decreased by 23.5% to 62 events. This is also a slight decrease from the same quarter last year, where there were 71 recalls. The most common cause of recalls was cuts, which were linked to 20 recalls. Electric shock came in close second with 19 events.

Toy recalls declined by 17.2% to 101 in Q3. Whilst it is a decrease on the previous quarter, it is still significantly higher than the 81 recalls in Q3 of 2021. Choking risk was the most common reason for recalls, with 33 events, and plastic dolls the leading category, with 15 recalls.

The number of clothing recalls continued to fall this quarter, dropping 35.2% to 35. Children’s apparel was responsible for 80.0% of clothing recalls. Injuries were the most common reason for clothing recalls, cited in nine events.

“Recalls across the five sectors assessed varied greatly during the last quarter. Businesses now face a tough economic climate and also need to adapt and innovate in response to technological advancements, as well as improve their approach to sustainability,” said Mark Buckingham, Sedgwick’s international product recall consultant.