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Published on May 18th, 2015 | by The GC Team

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EU report highlights UK’s poor product recall record

While the EU as a whole has seen a rise in the number of dangerous product reports, the UK has fallen out of the top five case reporting countries, according to newly published figures by the European Commission.

The 2014 Rapid Alert System report for dangerous non-food products ‘Keeping European Consumers Safe’ again showed a rise in the number of products stopped before entering, or removed because they were deemed dangerous for EU consumers.

The statistical report revealed that 2,435 products were either stopped or removed during 2014 – of which 2,155 were deemed serious risk notifications – yet the UK has dropped out of the top five countries for case reporting, with numbers falling 30% since 2012, while Spain, Germany and the Netherlands have all increased their notifications in the past two years.

The Approved Cables Initiative voiced its concern on the findings and said: “The figures raise the question as to why UK notifications have dropped. It could be due to smaller numbers of sub-standard products entering the UK market. We think this unrealistic, however, as with an overall European rise it suggests it is more likely that there is uneven market surveillance in the EU and, in particular, low levels in the UK.”

The 2014 statistics from the Rapex Annual Report also showed:

  • Electrical appliances and equipment were the third most common product categories notified
  • Electric shock was the fourth most common type of risk notified
  • The majority of dangerous products notified in the system came from outside the EU. China (including Hong Kong) was indicated as a country of origin for 64% of notified products.

The ACI said it also noted that, of the larger EU countries, the UK has the lowest percentage of compulsory recall measures, preferring to use voluntary measures for more than 80% of cases reported. “We would ask why the UK uses predominately informal measures rather than legal measures for recalls compared to other European countries and has the effectiveness of this approach been assessed,” the organisation said.

Electrical Safety First today responded to the Government’s Review of the UK’s System for the Recall of Unsafe Products and highlighted the need for a more robust system of recalls and urgent action to increase consumer understanding of risk.

“With the limited success of recalls (currently at only 10-20% effectiveness) and with well over 200 electrical items recalled in the last four years, it is clear the current system for product recalls needs improvement”, said Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First. “And when you realise that this means millions of recalled electrical items are still in people’s homes, you start to recognise the scale of the problem.”

Last year ESF published a report, Consumer Voices on Product Recall, which investigated the public perception of recalls, issues with the current system and how recalls and product registration could be improved. The report showed that consumers were wary of registering products as they were concerned their information could be used for marketing rather than safety purposes.

“We have been raising awareness of the safety issues presented by dangerous recalled electrical goods for some time now”, said Buckle. “So we were delighted that the Government instigated the Review and we hope it will lead to some much-needed improvements. Without an effective and properly resourced recall system, consumers are being put at risk and business brands and reputations can be badly affected.”

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