Source: Financial Times, January 26, 2009
Product recalls reach record high in Europe
EU notifications double those of US
The rate of notifications was up by about 15 per cent and the total of faulty items reported was 1,546. That compared with 1,337 in the previous year, and more than 700 items in 2005. This excludes pharmaceuticals and food items, so does not cover fallout from the much-publicized Chinese milk scandal, for example.
The lion's share of product safety notifications continued to stem from Chinese-made products, with these accounting for about 48 per cent of the total. But this proportion was reduced slightly from the previous year, which may be an early indicator that efforts to persuade the Chinese authorities to improve quality and safety standards are having some effect.
In terms of types of faulty goods notified, toys and children's items remained the most heavily affected - although, again, this category declined slightly in percentage terms, possibly reflecting the authorities' focus on this area.
Items notified ranged from electric fans and children's mobile phones to hand-mixers and motorbikes.
The steady rise in notifications is thought to be due largely to increased surveillance by national authorities and the bedding-down of new rules that came into force in 2004. 'There is no evidence that consumers are being put at greater risk,' says Rod Freeman, the Lovells partner who compiled the data.
But as recession encourages consumers to shop for low-priced items and manufacturers try to cut costs, he predicts, the notification numbers will continue to grow in the near future. 'If anything, the current crisis will put more pressure on the system,' he said.
What is the relationship between a record high in product recalls in Europe, China's role in the world economy, and EU and US product safety directives?