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Product recalls reach 20-year high: Sedgwick

product recalls

Product recalls during 2022 have reached a 20-year high with an entire quarter left in the year, according to the U.S. product recall index released Thursday by Sedgwick Claims Services Management Inc.

Data from Sedgwick’s brand protection division says 1.22 billion units have been involved in recalls across the five industries tracked in its index, breaking the previous record of 1.20 billion set in 2018, a statement said.

The record numbers were driven largely by increases in the average recall size for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, which both saw their average recall size grow by more than 500%, data showed.  

The third-party administrator has been tracking such data for more than 20 years, according to the statement.

Medical device recalls decreased 16.8% in third-quarter 2022 to 223 events, but the number of units impacted skyrocketed 411.0% to 51.5 million.

Similarly, the number of third-quarter pharmaceutical recalls fell 13.8% to 81 events in the third quarter, but year to date, the industry has seen 107.2 million units impacted, its second-highest number of units recalled on record.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration third-quarter food and beverage recalls also fell, by 18.3% to 98 events in the third quarter, but their average size increased 158.3% to 592,121 units. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, third-quarter food recalls increased by only one event to 14 as their average size fell 56.4% to 32,631 pounds.

Third-quarter consumer product recalls also increased by only one event, to 66 from 65 in the second quarter, and the number of units recalled in the third quarter fell by 19.2% to 5.4 million.

Automotive recalls increased by 2.9% to 252 events, but the number of impacted vehicles dropped substantially to 5.2 million from 9.2 million in the second quarter. Only two quarters in the last 10 years have seen smaller average recall sizes, Sedgwick said.

Businesses will need to pay close attention to regulatory activity at the state and federal level and routinely evaluate and update their product recall, crisis and communications plans to account for emerging risks amid economic uncertainty, ongoing geopolitical issues and continued disruptions to supply chains, Chris Harvey, Sedgwick senior vice president of brand protection, said in the statement.

“Regulatory activity did not slow down in the third quarter, and we can expect regulators and lawmakers to continue their close scrutiny of compliance and processes in every industry,” he said.