UK product recalls hit record high

Posted on 15 Mar 2016 by Victoria Fitzgerald

The number of product recalls in the UK jumped by 26% to a new high of 310 in 2014/15 from 245 in 2013/14, according to commercial law firm, RPC.

Product recalls are issued after a health and safety risk or a major design or production flaw has been discovered in a product.

RPC said the number of vehicle recalls rose dramatically in the past year after several high profile incidents within the motor industry, with the UK seeing 39 different motor vehicle recalls – a 30% increase from the 30 recalled in 2013/14.

According to the law firm, the scandal over General Motors’ failure to promptly recall cars with a potentially faulty ignition switch may have prompted other manufacturers to recall more swiftly and more frequently if they identified a potential problem with their car.

Pressure on the motor industry has been further raised by the investigation into Volkswagen over emissions testing, which began in 2014. French carmaker Renault recently recalled 15,000 cars after questions were raised over emissions testing of its cars.

Partner at RPC, Gavin Reese commented: “Sometimes it can take a huge scandal to break for an industry to sit up, take notice and ensure their products are watertight.

“Certainly the automotive industry is now very sensitive to accusations of being slow to recall faulty or non-compliant products. Car manufacturers are looking for irregularities more closely, as well as facing increased pressure from regulators and, therefore, it’s likely that 2016 will also see a high level of vehicle recalls.”

Number of food recalls rises by 50%

RPC highlighted that the number of recalls relating to food and drink has also significantly increased, by 50% this year from 56 to 84.

After the horsemeat scandal in 2013, the National Food Crime Unit was established in 2014 which works to uncover incidents of food fraud in the UK.

The creation of this unit, as well as the increasing importance being placed by supermarkets on their supply chains, may have led to the rise in food product recalls in the past year.

Reese added: “The horsemeat scandal set off reverberations across the food industry, and now a couple of years on tighter measures and an increased scrutiny have clearly made a big difference.”

When recall figures were first collected by RPC ten years ago, there was less than half the amount of product recalls with just 149 products recalled in 2004/5.

Total Product Recalls since 2004/05

RPC’s annual research into product recalls covers the year from November 1, 2014 to October, 31 2015, and is based on information from the Trading Standards Institute; the Food Standards Agency; RAPEX, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.