Food recalls down 40%

Posted on 19 Jul 2010 by The Manufacturer

Product recalls in the UK were down ten per cent last year, led by a big drop in food products, although recalls of Chinese made goods are increasing.

According to research by City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, the number of consumer goods products recalled, excluding food and drink and pharmaceuticals, was up 10% from 120 to 132. However, food and drink sector recalls were down from 88 to 53, meaning total product recalls have dropped to 205 from 227 in the previous year.

Recalls of products made in China were up by 19% from 53 to 63 and Stuart White, partner at RPC, says firms there is little sign that standards in the Far East are improving.

He says: “This is a major issue for UK and European companies as they are becoming increasingly reliant on China as their workshop – their business plans do not allow them to bring production back to the EU. Unfortunately, as things stand, more consumer goods coming from China means more companies will have to undertake expensive recalls.”

He also said that the drop in product recalls is not necessarily a sign that standards are improving – it could be a by-product of recession and firms balking at the cost of undertaking one.

“Typically, businesses will always conduct a recall if they believe it is in the customer’s best interests or if health and safety concerns arise,” says White. “But when the decision to issue a recall is less clear cut, the recession may have had a slight dampening effect on whether a company goes to the huge expense of a full-scale recall.”

“Food production is a tightly regulated area and the sudden drop in food-related recalls could mean the sector has seen production quality improvements.”

RPC’s annual research cover the year from November 1 to October 31.